OK, not the whole team, but a piece of a team? Boca Raton-based iTeam Sports, which launched last year to provide fans an opportunity to become team owners, recently forged a partnership with HVM Racing, which has two cars competing in Sunday’s Indy 500.
iTeam’s model allows fans to pay typically $150 to $200 to invest in a minor league sports franchise. That investment provides no monetary return, but gives fans the right to be called “owner” as well as merchandise, ticket discounts, and unique access to team officials and players. They also become part of an online social network for each team.
The company launched with three independent baseball teams last year: the Atlantic City Surf in New Jersey and Texas-based Grand Prairie AirHogs and El Paso Diablos. Read the story I wrote about the company’s launch last October here.
But iTeam always planned to expand to other sports, including auto racing. In fact, iTeam President Steven Levenson said, partnering with an IndyCar team works well for attracting fans nationally.
“The stick and ball sports are very regionalized to where the team is,” Levenson said. “The appeal with motorsports is national and international … it’s a different model.”
For $199, fans can own a stake in Indianapolis-based HVM Racing -- read more about the partnership here. Team drivers E.J. Viso (No. 13) and Nelson Philipe (No. 00) are competing in the Indy 500. The partnership is exclusive through 2011.
“Racing fans are very engaged with their favorite teams, and this arrangement lets them get even more involved, probably more than they even thought possible,” HVM Racing Team Principal Keith Wiggins said in a statement.
iTeam has a booth at this weekend’s Indy 500, and representatives are handing out postcards explaining the deal. The company is running ads on other Web sites and pitching the investment as a gift idea, including for Father’s Day.
“You can sit and watch the race and say I’m a fan of so and so. It’s another thing to say I’m a fan of this team because I own this team,” said Bob Margolis, an iTeam spokesman. “It’s an opportunity to be Chip Ganassi or Roger Penske without the headaches.”