The W scored a massive W with everyone from executives and basketball legends to former secretary of state Condoleeza Rice investing.
Ahead of the WNBA’s 26th season, the league has announced that it closed on a $75 million funding round, which it says is the largest ever for a women’s sports property. The WNBA calls the transaction a “multi-faceted financial growth strategy designed to generate new revenue through increased investment in priority areas as part of the league’s long-term business transformation.”
“We are incredibly fortunate to be able to capitalize on the current momentum around women’s sports and are grateful to the investors who have chosen to support the WNBA in an unprecedented way and to our team governors who continue to invest in the players and teams,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert in a statement.
Several WNBA and NBA owners are among the investors, including (but not limited to) Joe and Clara Tsai (New York Liberty and Brooklyn Nets), Micky and Nick Arison (Carnival Corporation and Miami Heat), Ginny Gilder (Seattle Storm) and Ted Leonsis (Washington Mystics and Washington Wizards). Pau Gasol, Baron Davis, and former secretary of state Condoleeza Rice also invested.
Nike, one of the league’s partners and inaugural WNBA Changemaker, has made a “significant equity investment” in the WNBA as well.
“Women’s sport is one of the best investments, with great potential to impact and grow the next era of basketball,” said Sonja Henning, VP, North America League Partnerships at Nike in a statement. “Nike has always been more than a sponsor with the WNBA – we’re a strategic partner. And we’re proud to be part of a movement to redefine the future of sport for a new generation – for WNBA players, fans, and girls.”
Sabrina Ionescu, point guard for the New York Liberty added,”One of the reasons I joined the Nike family was our shared commitment to growing the game and creating impact that’s even bigger than basketball. What excites me most about Nike’s expanded partnership with the WNBA is the chance to inspire future generations and help move the world forward through sport.”
Both the WNBA and NBA Boards of Governors approved the transaction and Allen & Company LLC served as the financial advisor.
The 2021 season marked the WNBA’s 25th anniversary and featured new partnerships with Google, the latest WNBA Changemaker, as well as Amazon Prime Video, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Coinbase. The companies joined a growing lineup of partners led by WNBA Changemakers AT&T, Deloitte, and NIKE, Inc. The league also introduced an in-season competition – the WNBA Commissioner’s Cup – which will continue with the upcoming 2022 season.
“Our strategy is to deploy this capital to continue to drive the league’s brand as a bold, progressive entertainment and media property that embodies diversity, promotes equity, advocates for social justice, and stands for the power of women,” Englebert said. “Having just completed our historic 25th season, with this access to additional capital, we are setting the WNBA up for a successful future and it represents a sign and signal of the future direction of women’s sports as a whole.”