On Thursday, the WNBA announced a new capital raise that featured new investors along with existing WNBA and NBA owners. According to ESPN writer Michelle Voepel https://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/33206749/wnba-announces-new-capital-raise-aid-growth-strategy, the league is expected to give the proceeds of the money to be used for things like marketing and brand elevation, and also the globalization of the league and addressing obstacles to growth.
So how did this capital raise come about? This started from the WNBA selling equity, which was $75 million, according to WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert. Engelbert stated her desire for better marketing by stating, "In order to grow a business, you have to have capital. Thanks to this capital raise, we're going to take a huge step forward in our growth strategy, particularly in areas like player marketing and elevating everything we do with our fans. Figuring out how to elevate our players and make sure we're building them into household names. And that we show up more in the places our fans want us to show up and where we can bring in new fans."
One company that has made a significant investment already is one of the WNBA’s partners already in Nike. Other initial investors in the capital raise are former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Miami Heat owner Micky Arison, Boston Globe CEO Linda Henry, Michael and Susan Dell of Dell Technologies, and Dee Haslam and Whitney Johnson of Haslam Sports Group (owners of the Cleveland Browns and Columbus Crew).
Other investors in the group are former WNBA player Swin Cash, former NBA players Baron Davis and Pau Gasol and former hockey star Angela Ruggiero. There are also current WNBA owners involved as well which includes the Dallas Wings' Bill Cameron, the Indiana Fever's Herb and Steve Simon, the Los Angeles' Sparks' Mark Walter, the New York Liberty's Joe and Clara Tsai, and the Seattle Storm's Ginny Gilder.
Engelbert expressed her excitement by saying, "We felt if we had this capital, we could have increased marketing and advertising, which in this cluttered social media world you have to be very strategic and innovative about. I think there is interest in everything the league stands for and everything the players are doing, both on court and socially and community minded. We looked for investors who shared the values of the WNBA. And who believe women's sports are on the way up and want to get in.”
Engelbert continued her statement by saying, “It's really important that the players know this is an investment in them, even though it's in the league and not a specific team or just specific players. It's to help grow our revenue streams and produce sustainable long-term growth."
The WNBA season is set to begin on May 26th, but with this new investment of money from a variety of different investors, can they finally market their star players and get these players the salaries they deserve? We will see once things are set in stone.