Atlanta Dream bought to Larry Gottesdiener following Kelly Loeffler controversy
Renee Montgomery of the Atlanta Dream.
Adam Pantozzi | National Basketball Association | Getty Images
Kelly Loeffler, the former U.S. Senator who lost her seat in the Georgia runoff election last month, is no longer a WNBA team owner.
The Women’s National Basketball Association announced Friday that it and the NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale of the Atlanta Dream to Larry Gottesdiener, chairman of Northland real estate company.
Other team investors include former dream star Renee Montgomery and Northland President and COO Suzanne Abair.
“With the unanimous WNBA and NBA votes, today marks a fresh start for the Atlanta Dream organization and we are delighted to welcome Larry Gottesdiener and Suzanne Abair to the WNBA,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert in a statement . “I admire her passion for women’s basketball, but most of all I am impressed by her values.”
In a media call about the sale, Engelbert said Montgomery was a huge “win” for the new owners. She called Montgomery a “pioneer who made a huge impact both in the game and beyond”. Montgomery, 34, played 11 years in the WNBA, including two seasons on the franchise, in 2018 and 2019, before retiring on February 9.
“I want to keep growing and we will continue to build momentum in Atlanta for Atlanta Dream,” said Montgomery on the conference call.
Conditions of sale were not provided.
However, the sports bankers paint a picture of the WNBA team ratings and estimate the sale of a bigger market team – the New York Liberty – in 2019, which will sell in the $ 10 million to $ 14 million range. Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai now owns the team.
When asked by CNBC to confirm whether sales fell within the price range, Engelbert said the terms are “confidential,” but added, “We look forward to continuing the transformation to include all elements of the WNBA for us all Our franchises can offer added value and a valuation for the future. “
Atlanta owner Kelly Loeffler (right) speaks to Dream General Manager Chris Sienko (left) during the WNBA game between the Las Vegas Aces and the Atlanta Dream on September 5, 2019 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, GA.
Rich von Biberstein | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images
In 2011 Loeffler and Mary Brock took over the majority stake in Dream after the owner at the time, Kathy Betty, left the group of owners in 2011.
Loeffler hit the headlines in July 2020 after speaking out against support for the social justice team for blacks after multiple high profile police murders.
The Dream wore shirts that supported the Black Lives Matter movement and remembered Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky last March. Loeffler wrote to Engelbert to oppose the team’s support for the movement and suggest that the players wear American flags on their shirts instead.
Following the letter, Dream players used their platform to support their Jan 5 runoff opponent, now US Senator Raphael Warnock. The players wore “Vote Warnock” shirts, which reportedly raised over $ 236,000 for his campaign.
On January 19, reports surfaced that a sale of the dream had been completed.
“That is now a thing of the past, we look to the future and a new beginning for the dream players and, to be honest, for the WNBA,” said Engelbert.
The Dream ended 7-15 last season and failed to make the playoffs. The team will select third place in the 2021 WNBA draft.
“It is a privilege to join a team of inspiring women who seek excellence on the pitch and justice off the pitch,” said Gottesdiener. “I would like to thank Commissioner Engelbert, Commissioner (Adam) Silver, and the boards of governors of the WNBA and the NBA for the opportunity.”