Atlanta Dream sold to Larry Gottesdiener following Kelly Loeffler controversy

Kelly Loeffler, the previous U.S. senator who misplaced her seat within the Georgia runoff elections final month, is now not a WNBA workforce proprietor.

The Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation introduced Friday that it and the NBA board of governors have unanimously permitted the sale of the Atlanta Dream to Larry Gottesdiener, chairman of actual property agency Northland.

Different workforce buyers embrace former Dream star Renee Montgomery and Northland president and COO Suzanne Abair.

“With the unanimous WNBA and NBA votes, in the present day marks a brand new starting for the Atlanta Dream group and we’re more than happy to welcome Larry Gottesdiener and Suzanne Abair to the WNBA,” stated WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert in an announcement. “I love their ardour for ladies’s basketball, however extra importantly, have been impressed with their values.”

On a media name discussing the sale, Engelbert stated Montgomery can be an enormous “asset” to the brand new homeowners. She referred to as Montgomery a “trailblazer who has made a serious impression each within the recreation and past.” Montgomery, 34, performed 11 years within the WNBA, together with two seasons with the franchise, 2018 and 2019, earlier than retiring on Feb. 9.

“I wish to proceed to develop and we’ll proceed to develop the momentum in Atlanta for Atlanta Dream,” stated Montgomery on the decision.

Phrases of the sale weren’t made obtainable.

However portray an image of WNBA workforce valuations, sports activities bankers estimate the 2019 sale of a bigger-market workforce — the New York Liberty — bought within the $10 million to $14 million vary. Brooklyn Nets proprietor Joe Tsai now owns the workforce.

Requested by CNBC to verify if the sale fell that in worth vary, Engelbert stated phrases have been “confidential” however added “we’re trying ahead to persevering with the transformation round all the weather of the WNBA in order that we will add worth and valuation to all of our franchises going ahead.”

In 2011, Loeffler and Mary Brock took over the bulk stake within the Dream, after then-owner Kathy Betty departed the possession group in 2011.

Loeffler made headlines in July 2020 after she opposed the workforce’s help of social justice for Black individuals following a number of high-profile killings involving police.

The Dream wore jerseys supporting the Black Lives Matter motion and remembering Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky, final March. Loeffler wrote Engelbert to oppose the workforce’s help of the motion and to suggest that gamers put on American flags on their jerseys as an alternative.

After the letter, Dream gamers used their platform to help her Jan. 5 runoff opponent, now U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock. Gamers wore “Vote Warnock” shirts, which reportedly raised over $236,000 for his marketing campaign.

On Jan. 19, reviews surfaced {that a} sale of the Dream was being finalized.

“That is previously now, we’re trying in direction of the long run, and the brand new starting for the Dream gamers and fairly frankly, the WNBA,” Engelbert stated.

The Dream completed 7-15 final season and didn’t make the playoffs. The workforce will choose third within the 2021 WNBA Draft.

“It’s a privilege to affix a workforce of inspiring ladies who try for excellence on the court docket and fairness off the court docket,” stated Gottesdiener. “I wish to specific my gratitude to Commissioner Engelbert, Commissioner (Adam) Silver, and the WNBA and NBA Boards of Governors for the chance.”

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