The WNBA and its teams are now valued at $1 billion following a historic capital raise of $75 million, a source with knowledge of the investment’s impact told Front Office Sports.
The league billed the raise as the biggest ever for a “women’s sports property.” It includes a roster of A-list investors from the basketball community, as well as the worlds of business and politics.
The funds will go toward “human capital and operational optimization,” marketing and growing the fanbase, merchandise strategy, and the globalization of the league.
- Part of the raise was a “significant equity investment” from Nike.
- Investors with NBA and WNBA ties include Joe and Clara Wu Tsai, Pau Gasol, and Swin Cash.
- Other investors include former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Laurene Powell Jobs.
The news follows a 2021 season that saw major growth — regular-season ratings were up 49% over 2020, per ESPN. The league earns about $25 million a year in media rights — a fraction of the NBA’s revenue.
While the WNBA has made major strides in recent years with investing in players, criticism over salaries and resources continue.
Player salaries won’t grow immediately as a result of the raise, and neither will access to charter flights, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. Right now, the funds will give the WNBA more resources that “elevate players in the marketplace.”