Sue Bird has announced that she has purchased a minority stake in National Women’s Soccer League franchise NJ/NY Gotham FC as she nears retirement, the parties said. Forbes.
For the Women’s National Basketball Association star, 41, it’s a get-rich-quick scheme when it comes to the possibility of promotion in the league. She joins a growing list of Gotham FC investors including New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and his wife Tammy Murphy. NBA star Kevin Durant’s investment firm, Thirty Five Ventures; and former US national team soccer star Carli Lloyd. Financial terms of Bird’s stake were not disclosed, but the investment includes the provision that Bird will act as an “advisor” to the club as Gotham FC seeks to grow its brand on the crowded regional and national sports landscape.
It was not clear how much the NWSL franchise is worth. Sports Banks said. Forbes Considering Michelle Kang, a businesswoman, bought the NWSL’s Washington Spirit in February 35 million dollars reported. Also, a fund associated with Los Angeles-based Angeles City FC has raised more than $20 million, valuing the fund at about $110 million, according to Pitchbook. Angel City FC said it picked up more. Capital in February 2022
said the bird Forbes Gotham FC declined to discuss financial details, though it appears permanent. However, Gotham FC has met her commercial standards and said she supports women’s empowerment in sports. She added that investing in an NWSL club didn’t take much convincing from her fiancée, soccer star Megan Rapinoe.
“There was no conversation,” Bird said. “It was, ‘Yeah, that sounds amazing.'”
Arrows pointing to the NWSL
On June 16, Bird announced He plans to retire The team that made her debut in 2002 after playing 21 seasons with the Seattle Hurricanes. The 12-time All-Star led the Tide to four WNBA championships and won five Olympic gold medals. She will end this season in moderation. 72,000 dollarsAccording to Spotrac, which tracks sports contracts.
When asked to sum up her career in two words, Bird said, “Winning and longevity.”
Bird In 2014, she said she began to contemplate life after the WNBA, saying, “At some point in my life as an athlete, I wanted to be ready for that time.” She began exploring investments in smaller companies and now has stakes in companies including San Francisco fitness equipment maker Tonal. That company has raised $250 million by 2021, according to PitchBook. Bird also owns a media production company called GetXer.
“He’s done the hard work,” says Bird, overcoming the early challenges that NWSL startups face. The league started in 2013 and is in its 10th season. Like its two predecessors, the Women’s United Soccer Association and Women’s Professional Soccer, the league aims to capitalize on the popularity of American women’s soccer.
Led by a star lineup including Rapinoe, Lloyd, Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan and Hope Solo, the U.S. national team showed a strong interest in women’s soccer in its 2015 Women’s World Cup match against Japan. The game set a record 25 million viewers in the US in 2019, the group won again, drawing an average of 14 million viewers. That beat the 2018 FIFA Men’s World Cup, which averaged 11.4 million viewers.
During the pandemic, the NWSL saw viewership plummet after becoming the first league to return after a Covid-19 shutdown. The Challenge Cup Championship averaged 653,000 viewers on CBS in July 2020. That’s up from the 166,000 average viewers who watched the 2019 NWSL title game. 2021 championship average 525,000 viewers.
“The talent level continues to improve, which speaks to the high level of play in the U.S.,” Bird said.
The NWSL is coming off a rocky 2021, with league commissioner Lisa Baird resigning after allegations of sexual misconduct against former North Carolina Courage manager Paul Riley. Sports executive Jessica Berman in April 2022 He took the lead As NWSL Commissioner, and she works with investment company Inner Circle Sports to expand the league.
Bird, a New York native, pointed to the league’s improved leadership to feel comfortable investing in the Gotham team. “It’s about the talent on the field and what they stand for off the field,” she said. “This is a reason to invest for me.”
If the NWSL is to grow or maintain viewership growth, it could help investors see a return on investments in franchises. The NWSL has joint rights deals with CBS Sports and Amazon 2.5 million dollars reported. These agreements They will continue until 2024. Also, the league and the players agreed to the first collective bargaining agreement, which guarantees labor peace for the next five years. The agreement a 100 million dollars investment Team owners.
All the arrows are “pointing in the right direction,” Bird said Forbes Investing in women’s sports is “the best investment you can make right now because of the growth rate,” she says.