🠈  Sports Authority (history)  🠊

Sports Authority was a chain of sporting goods super stores based in Denver that was owned by the leveraged buyout firm Leonard Green & Partners. The stores declared bankruptcy in March 2016 and chose liquidation to restructuring in May 2016. The chain was reported to have over 450 locations and over 14,000 prior to 2016.

The Sports Authority chain was the creation of multiple mergers. The most prominent acquisition was the 2003 merger between Sports Authority and Gart Sports.

Brands involved in the merger chain include Gart Sports, Sportscastle, Oshman's, Copeland's Sports, and Sportmart.

Sports Authority was founded as a concept sports super store in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1987. The concept was developed by Kmart into a chain with 136 stores in 1990.

Gart Sports was founded in 1928 by a newspaper boy named Nathan Gart who began selling fishing rods samples. Gart opened its Sportscastle super store at 10th Avenue and Broadway in Denver in 1981.

After the 2003 merger, the company kept the Sports Authority name but often traced the company's lineage to the founding of Gart Sports. The merged company had its headquarters in Engelwood, Colorado.

Leonard Green Partners acquired The Sports Authority in a leveraged buyout in 2006 for a transaction valued at $1.4 billion. Reports claim the merged company was unable to compete in the market with the debt load from the merger.

The company had naming rights for the Sports Authority Field which is home to the Denver Broncos. I suspect a name change is in the works.

The Sports Authority web site, along with others brands held by the company, were developed on the GSI Platform. GSI was acquired by eBay Enterprises, which was later spun off to become Pepperjam. It is likely that the web site will continue well after the closing of the stores.

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