The largest-ever capital raise for a women’s sports property included new investors and existing owners from the WNBA and NBA. The Tsais own the New York Liberty along with the Nets.
Nike and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are among some of the major names involved with the deal. Former WNBA star and current New Orleans Pelicans Vice-President of Basketball Operations and Team Development Swin Cash and Former NBA stars Baron Davis and Paul Gasol were also among the group of investors.
“This is a significant moment for the WNBA. We’re trying to fuel the next stage of growth for us,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said during an interview on CNBC. “We’ve all seen the reports that less than 5% of all sports media coverage and less than 1% of all sponsorship dollars go to women’s sports, so access to this capital when you’re trying to grow a business is really going to help us move the needle.”
The league is hoping to use the influx of money to expand its footprint in the United States and abroad.
In a press release, the league stated that “proceeds from this transaction are expected to be used for brand elevation and marketing; globalization of the WNBA; innovation, digital, and growth of consumer touchpoints.”
“It’s really a lot of growth initiatives,” Engelbert said during the CNBC interview. “There’s a lot of things we’re going to use this capital for, and really ultimately marketing our stars into household names.”
Joe Tsai has often commented about trying to grow the Liberty and WNBA brand, and last October vowed to fix the transportation issue in the WNBA. Unlike their NBA counterparts, the CBA doesn’t allow for WNBA teams to travel by charter flights.
In October, the Liberty dealt with a major travel snafu and Tsai vowed on social media to solve the issue.