The National Football League is making a big play to increase lending in underrepresented communities.
The league is borrowing $78 million from a syndicate of Black- and minority-owned banks and community development financial institutions.
The loan deal will generate “tier 1 capital” for the banks and CDFIs. According to the National Black Bank Foundation, it will boost their lending power by millions through banking fees and interest. The full terms of the loan are not being released.
However, Joe Siclare, the NFL’s executive vice president of finance and league policy, said the terms are at “market rates,” and the league plans to fully draw on the loan over the next three years.
“These banks play a vital role in our overall economy and many of them are in markets that our teams play, so there is good synergy there,” Siclare told CNBC.
“These community banks sometimes have difficulty navigating down economic times. When large corporations like the National Football League can partner and provide reliable revenue streams, it helps those banks continue to do the great work they do in their communities,” he added.
The NFL deal follows a similar $35 million loan linked to the National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Hawks for a practice facility in 2020 and a $25 million loan with Major League Soccer in 2022, both of which were arranged by the NBBF and a syndicate of Black-owned banks.
NBBF co-founder Ashley Bell is hopeful these deals will prove Black- and minority-owned banks are viable partners for large corporations long term, especially with the threat of an economic downturn or recession that would likely have a bigger effect on communities of color.
“These banks loan money to people and businesses that need it without being predatory. This gives them breathing room. These banks are centers of hope around the country. Whether they are Martin Luther King, Jr Drive or Main Street,” Bell said. These are the places people go to get opportunity and by supporting these institutions, the NFL is supporting these communities.”
The NFL consulted with Bank of America and the NBBF on its loan.
“It’s definitely a needed shot in the arm at a time when community banking is being questioned,” Bell said.
Bell said the regional banking crisis triggered by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in March has the potential to destabilize many Black and minority financial institutions. The NBBF says in many cases, Black and minority banks are “hyper local,” providing 85% or more of the loans to underrepresented groups in their area.
“Doing a deal with an entity like the NFL, that helps your brand. It helps people understand that you can do a complex deal. So, if you can do a deal with the NFL, surely you can trust that bank with your home loan,” Bell said. “Surely you can trust that bank with a line of credit for your business, your church, your faith organization. You can go to them and trust that you’ll get the best service.”
The NFL’s involvement will create opportunity for Black- and minority-owned banks to make income and then put that money out into the community, according to Dominik Mjartan, CEO of Optus Bank in Columbia, South Carolina, one of 16 financial institutions partnering on the loan.
“The NFL giving us this chance to participate, it enhances our ability to deliver on our mission to serve underserved, underestimated high-potential customers and communities,” he said.