Women’s soccer draws private-equity interest as team valuations soar

by | Jul 4, 2024 | Business

Women’s soccer is bringing private equity off the sidelines.While other major U.S. sports leagues – Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League – have allowed private equity investors to take passive, minority stakes, only the National Women’s Soccer League has allowed these firms to take majority control of the economics. “We really see institutional capital as a way to really infuse additional capital behind our assets,” Jessica Berman, commissioner of the NWSL, told CNBC in an interview. Sixth Street was the first to own a team in building out the San Francisco women’s team, Bay FC, last year. At the time, the firm paid a record $54 million for the league’s 14th franchise.The second-ever such deal closed a few weeks ago, as Carlyle partnered with men’s team, the Seattle Sounders FC, to buy that city’s counterpart in the NWSL, the Reign FC. The transaction valued the Reign at $58 million – far beyond the $3.5 million it sold for just five years ago. As part of the deal, Sounders FC owner Adrian Hanauer serves as governor of Reign FC on the NWSL Board, while Carlyle’s head of private credit, Alex Popov, serves as alternate governor. Popov said NWSL attendance, up more than 40% this year, is evidence of the momentum in the sport. “We’re seeing that inflection point, we’re seeing it for the right reasons,” Popov said. “And there is a lot of things for all of us to do, to continue to have growth.” Sarah Gorden #11 of Angel City FC and Veronica Latsko #24 of OL Reign play the ball during the first half at Lumen Field on October 20, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. Steph Chambers | Getty ImagesThe …

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[mwai_chat context=”Let’s have a discussion about this article:nnWomen’s soccer is bringing private equity off the sidelines.While other major U.S. sports leagues – Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League – have allowed private equity investors to take passive, minority stakes, only the National Women’s Soccer League has allowed these firms to take majority control of the economics. “We really see institutional capital as a way to really infuse additional capital behind our assets,” Jessica Berman, commissioner of the NWSL, told CNBC in an interview. Sixth Street was the first to own a team in building out the San Francisco women’s team, Bay FC, last year. At the time, the firm paid a record $54 million for the league’s 14th franchise.The second-ever such deal closed a few weeks ago, as Carlyle partnered with men’s team, the Seattle Sounders FC, to buy that city’s counterpart in the NWSL, the Reign FC. The transaction valued the Reign at $58 million – far beyond the $3.5 million it sold for just five years ago. As part of the deal, Sounders FC owner Adrian Hanauer serves as governor of Reign FC on the NWSL Board, while Carlyle’s head of private credit, Alex Popov, serves as alternate governor. Popov said NWSL attendance, up more than 40% this year, is evidence of the momentum in the sport. “We’re seeing that inflection point, we’re seeing it for the right reasons,” Popov said. “And there is a lot of things for all of us to do, to continue to have growth.” Sarah Gorden #11 of Angel City FC and Veronica Latsko #24 of OL Reign play the ball during the first half at Lumen Field on October 20, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. Steph Chambers | Getty ImagesThe …nnDiscussion:nn” ai_name=”RocketNews AI: ” start_sentence=”Can I tell you more about this article?” text_input_placeholder=”Type ‘Yes'”]
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