Business

KC entrepreneur joins Cleveland Indians ownership group

The lure of a World Series-bound team may have played into an investment decision by Kansas City entrepreneur John Sherman.

The Cleveland Indians announced Friday that Sherman, 61, has become vice chairman and a minority owner in the club.

“I am extremely pleased to join the Cleveland Indians’ ownership group and look forward to working closely with Paul Dolan as a partner to help the team compete for a World Series title,” Sherman told The Star.

“Baseball has always been a passion for me, and this is an exciting time to join the Indians’ organization, which has so much promise and potential,” Sherman said.

He joins Dolan, who is chief executive and chairman of the Cleveland team, in the ownership group.

The Dolan family had been searching for a minority owner for some time. The parties to the deal did not reveal a price tag or what percentage of the team Sherman purchased. The Dolans have said they intend to keep majority ownership. The Dolan family purchased the team in 2000 for $322 million.

Allen & Co., a New York investment bank, helped broker the deal between Sherman and the Dolans, and it was approved this week in Houston at Major League Baseball’s quarterly owners meetings.

Sherman is known for starting and developing two businesses — LPG Services Group and Inergy LP — in Kansas City.

His first company, LPG, grew rapidly and merged with Dynegy in 1996. His second company, Inergy, went public in 2001, selling more than $35 million in limited partnership units similar to stock. Inergy merged with Crestwood Holdings in 2013, and Sherman continues to serve on that board.

Sherman drew from earlier career experience at Ferrellgas Partners, the Liberty-based propane gas company, before he founded new companies in the energy field. As he grew his wealth, he became a noted philanthropist in the Kansas City area, donating millions, largely to educational institutions.

He has also held several notable positions, serving as chairman of the Kansas City Civic Council and as a trustee of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation who led the search committee that in 2015 selected Wendy Guillies as the foundation’s chief executive.

Interestingly, Sherman was inducted into the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Bloch School of Business Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame along with Ewing Kauffman, the former owner of the Kansas City Royals who is credited with returning a major league team to Kansas City.

In a 2006 interview about his success in the propane industry, Sherman described his business philosophy as not to worry about things that he can’t control.

“What I worry about the most is that we are recruiting and rewarding and retaining the people that it takes to carry out our strategy,” he said, perhaps foretelling thoughts about baseball team management as well.

Sherman declined to offer any more current comments.

Diane Stafford: 816-234-4359, @kcstarstafford

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