National Womens Soccer League

Sporticast: If Scarcity Drives Value, How Do We Explain NWSL Sales?

Sporticast: If Scarcity Drives Value, How Do We Explain NWSL Sales?

On the latest Sporticast episode, hosts Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams discuss some of the biggest sports business stories of the week, including a run of M&A news in the NWSL. The San Diego Wave are being sold for $113 million, the Seattle Reign are being sold for $58 million, and the league’s most valuable team, Angel City, is exploring a control stake sale.

Each is a unique situation with a very different set of circumstances. San Diego’s deal might be the most straightforward. Billionaire Ron Burkle agreed to sell the team in a two-part deal that values the club at $113 million. The Levine Leichtman family is buying 35% of the club now for $35 million, and can buy the other 65% for $78 million at the end of the 2024 season.

More from Sportico.com

  • Carlyle, Sounders Reach Deal to Buy NWSL's Reign for $58 Million

  • Angel City for Sale: NWSL's Most Valuable Team Seeks New Owner

  • Burkle Selling NWSL's Wave to Levine Leichtman Family in $113M Deal

The Seattle Reign deal is slightly more complex. Private equity giant Carlyle and MLS’s Seattle Sounders have reached an agreement to buy the NWSL team for $58 million. Carlyle is doing the bulk of the financing, according to people familiar with the details. It wouldn’t be the first team majority owned by a PE fund—Sixth Street owns the Bay Area expansion franchise—but it will still likely require safeguards to protect the league.

Angel City appears to be the most complex of the three. The team’s ownership structure is unique—Alexis Ohanian contributed the bulk of the capital but does not control the board—and there’s been tension in the team’s ownership ranks. The board recently hired Moelis & Co. to explore a possible control stake sale.

The hosts discuss all three pieces of news, and what they mean in totality for the league, which kicked off its 2024 season over the weekend. Of the league’s 15 teams, 13 are either expansion teams or have new control owners since the start of 2020. That turnover has come with a new type of owners—many steeped in private equity, investing or ownership of other pro clubs in larger leagues.

Lastly, the hosts talk about the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments. More specifically they debate whether the women’s event is more alluring than the men’s event this year.

(You can subscribe to Sporticast through Apple, Google, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever else you get your podcasts.)

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