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Who Are The WNBA Team Owners?

Who Are The WNBA Team Owners?

Since its inception on April 22, 1996, the WNBA has gone through multiple league and personnel changes. But, perhaps, more than any other change has been the change in team ownership. Through the past 26 years, there have been a plethora of individual and group owners whom have staked claims in individual franchise teams.

These owners, many of them with ownership stakes in NBA teams, are fully invested in the success of the team, their individual players, and the league as a whole.

Below, we are going to look at just who are the WNBA team owners, how much stake do they own in their respective team, and whether or not they also have a stake in an NBA team.

Quick History of the WNBA

The WNBA was founded on April 22, 1996, by the Board of Governors for the NBA.  Currently, the WNBA is composed of twelve teams, with the regular season being played from the months of May through September, with the WNBA All Star game being held midway through the season.

Of the twelve WNBA teams, five share a direct NBA counterpart and typically play in the same arena.  The five teams include the Indiana Fever, the Los Angeles Sparks, the Minnesota Lynx, the New York Liberty, and the Phoenix Mercury.

From the remaining seven teams, the Atlanta Dream, the Chicago Sky, the Connecticut Sun, the Dallas Wings, the Las Vegas Aces, the Seattle Storm, and the Washington Mystics, none of those teams share an arena with a direct NBA counterpart. 

However, four of the seven do share a market with an NBA counterpart and the Washington Mystics and the Atlanta Dream do play in an NBA G League arena.

The initial purpose of the WNBA was meant to attract and bring additional viewership to the women’s sport.  In addition, by creating an exclusive women’s basketball league, the NBA Board of Governors hoped to attract female viewership to both the NBA and the WNBA.

However, digging deeper, and looking at the WNBA’s initial motto of, “We Got Next”, the purpose of the WNBA was meant to elevate the women’s sport of basketball past an afterthought and into the spotlight as a competitive, qualified, and equally entertaining league.

List of WNBA Teams

The WNBA, similar to the NBA, is broken into two conferences, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. From a league of 12 individual teams, each conference has a total of six teams. However, unlike the NBA, with each individual team playing an 82-game regular season, the WNBA and its franchise team’s play just a 36-game regular season.

Currently, per the WNBA, the regular season schedule is broken out as such:

  • Four games against one team (two home and two away)
  • Three games apiece against the four remaining teams (two home and one away versus two teams; one home and two away versus the other two teams)
  • Each team’s opponent breakdown is selected at random and will be rotated annually to ensure a fair balance of the schedule.

Games against the six teams in the opposite conference are as follows:

  • Three games against each team (two home and one away versus three teams; one home and two away versus the remaining three teams)
  • The opponents for the two formats are selected at random and will be reversed annually.

The current list of WNBA teams is as follows:

Eastern Conference

  • Atlanta Dream
  • Chicago Sky
  • Connecticut Sun
  • Indiana Fever
  • New York Liberty
  • Washington Mystics

Western Conference

  • Dallas Wings
  • Las Vegas Aces
  • Los Angeles Sparks
  • Minnesota Lynx
  • Phoenix Mercury
  • Seattle Storm

Atlanta Dream

  • Based – Atlanta, Georgia
  • Founded – The Atlanta Dream were founded on October 17, 2007
  • Arena – Gateway Center Arena in College Park, Georgia
  • Team Colors – Red, dark grey, light grey, light blue, and white
  • Main Sponsor – Emory Healthcare
  • Team Owners – Larry Gottesdiener, Suzanne Abair, and Renee Montgomery
    • Larry Gottesdiener – Larry is the Founder and Chairman of Northland Investment Corporation, a $10 billion industry leading national real estate firm. Larry is responsible for charting Northland’s long term strategy, overseeing national model, innovative mixed use developments, and guiding philanthropy, engagement, and activism.
    • Suzanne Abair – Suzanne serves as President and Chief Operating Officer for Northland, where she manages all aspects of Northland’s operations and leads certain strategic initiatives. During her tenure as COO, Suzanne has focused on best practices, diversity and inclusion, technology initiatives, operating efficiencies, and creating a more employee-focused company culture. Suzanne joined the company in 2004 and served as Northland’s General Counsel for twelve years before becoming COO.
    • Renee Montgomery – Renee is a former WNBA player and sports broadcaster. She is the first former WNBA player to become an owner and executive of a WNBA team and she won two WNBA championships with the Minnesota Lynx.

Chicago Sky

  • Based – Chicago, Illinois
  • Founded – The Chicago Sky were founded on February 8, 2005
  • Arena – Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois
  • Team Colors – Sky blue, radiant yellow, black, and white
  • Team Owners – Michael J. Alter, Margaret Stender, Michelle Williams, Matthew Knowles
    • Michael J. Alter – is an American businessman who is the president and owner of the Alter Group, a commercial real estate developer.
    • Margaret Stender – is business woman and former college basketball player. She spent 21 years in the corporate business world, including being president of the ready-to-eat cereal division at Quaker Oats Company; senior vice-president and general manager of consumer travel solutions for Rand McNally & Co; vice-president of marketing for Ameritech New Media; and president of PepsiCo’s juice drink division.
    • Michelle Williams – is an American singer, songwriter and actress. She rose to fame in the 2000s as a member of R&B girl group Destiny’s Child, one of the best-selling female groups of all time with over 60 million records, of which more than 35 million copies sold with the trio lineup that included Williams. During her time in the group she earned several accolades including a Grammy Award and star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
    • Matthew Knowles – is an American record executive, businessman and university lecturer. He is best known for being the manager of Destiny’s Child. In addition, he once managed the solo careers of his daughters Beyoncé and Solange Knowles.

Connecticut Sun

  • Based – Uncasville, Connecticut
  • Founded – The Connecticut Sun were founded in 1999
  • Arena – Mohegan Sun Arena
  • Team Colors – Orange, navy blue, and white
  • Main Sponsor – Frontier Communications
  • Team Owners – Mohegan
    • Mohegan – In 2003, as financial strains left the team on the brink of disbanding, the Mohegan Indian tribe purchased and relocated the team to Mohegan Sun, becoming the first Native American tribe to own a professional sports franchise. The team’s name comes from its affiliation with Mohegan Sun and its logo is reflective of a modern interpretation of an ancient Mohegan symbol.

Indiana Fever

  • Based – Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Founded – The Indiana Fever were founded in 2000
  • Arena – Gainbridge Fieldhouse for 4 games and Indiana Farmers Coliseum for 12 games
  • Team Colors – Navy blue, red, and gold
  • Main Sponsor – Finish Line, Inc.
  • Team Owners – Herb Simon
    • Herb Simon – is an American real estate developer. He currently lives in Indianapolis, Indiana and was educated at the City College of New York. He is the owner of the Indiana Pacers, the Indiana Fever, and chairman emeritus of the shopping mall developer Simon Property Group. Per Forbes, Simon’s net worth is estimated to be over $3.2 billion.

New York Liberty

  • Based – Brooklyn, New York
  • Founded – The New York Liberty were founded in 1997
  • Arena – Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
  • Team Colors – Seafoam green, black, and white
  • Team Owners – Joseph Tsai
    • Joseph Tsai – is a Taiwanese-born Canadian businessman, lawyer, and philanthropist. He is a co-founder and executive vice chairman of the Chinese multinational technology company Alibaba Group and owns the Brooklyn Nets, the New York Liberty, the San Diego Seals of the National Lacrosse League, and has interests in several other professional sports franchises. As of March 2022, his net worth was estimated at US$8.9 billion.

Washington Mystics

  • Based – Washington D.C.
  • Founded – The Washington Mystics were founded in 1998
  • Arena – Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington D.C.
  • Team Colors – Red, blue, silver, and white
  • Main Sponsor – GEICO
  • Team Owners – Ted Leonsis
    • Ted Leonsis – is an American businessman, investor, filmmaker, author, philanthropist, and former politician. He is a former senior executive with America Online (AOL), and the founder, chairman, and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment. In addition to owning the Washington Mystics, he is the majority holder of the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals.

Dallas Wings

  • Based – Arlington, Texas
  • Founded – The Dallas Wings were founded in 1998
  • Arena – College Park Center
  • Team Colors – Navy, volt green, blue, and cyan
  • Main Sponsor – American Fidelity
  • Team Owners – Bill Cameron
    • Bill Cameron – is CEO and Chairman of the Board of Cameron Enterprises. Bill has served as an officer of American Fidelity companies since 1986. Additionally, Bill is a partial owner and serves on the board for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder. He is the lead owner and chairman of the new WNBA franchise, Dallas Wings.

Las Vegas Aces

  • Based – Paradise, Nevada
  • Founded – The Las Vegas Aces were founded in 1997
  • Arena – Michelob Ultra Arena
  • Team Colors – Red, black, gold, and silver
  • Team Owners – Mark Davis
    • Mark Davis – is an American businessman and sports franchise owner. He is the controlling owner and managing general partner of the Las Vegas Raiders of the NFL and the owner of the Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA.

Los Angeles Sparks

  • Based – Los Angeles, California
  • Founded – The Los Angeles Sparks were founded in 1997
  • Arena – Arena
  • Team Colors – Purple, gold, black, teal, and white
  • Main Sponsor – EquiTrust Life Insurance
  • Team Owners – Sparks LA Sports, LLC
    • Sparks LA Sports, LLC – represented by Mark Walter, Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten, Todd Boehly, and Bobby Patton.

Minnesota Lynx

  • Based – Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Founded – The Minnesota Lynx were founded in 1999
  • Arena – Target Center
  • Team Colors – Midnight navy blue, lake blue, aurora green, moonlight grey
  • Main Sponsor – Mayo Clinic
  • Team Owners – Glen Taylor
    • Glen Taylor – is an American billionaire business magnate and politician from Minnesota. A self-made businessman, Taylor made his fortune from being the founder and owner of Minnesota-based Taylor Corporation, one of the largest graphic communication companies in the United States. Taylor has been the majority owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA basketball team since he purchased the team in 1994. He is also the owner of the Minnesota Lynx WNBA basketball team and the part owner of the Minnesota United FC MLS soccer team. In addition to his sports team ownership, Taylor has been the owner of Minneapolis’s Star Tribune newspaper, the largest newspaper in the state of Minnesota, since 2014.

Phoenix Mercury

  • Based – Phoenix, Arizona
  • Founded – The Phoenix Mercury were founded in 1997
  • Arena – Footprint Center
  • Team Colors – Purple, orange, light grey, and black
  • Main Sponsor – Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort
  • Team Owners – Robert Sarver
    • Robert Sarver – is an American businessman, co-founder of Southwest Value Partners, a real estate development company, and the owner of the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, and RCD Mallorca.

Seattle Storm

  • Based – Seattle, Washington
  • Founded – The Seattle Storm were founded in 2000
  • Arena – Climate Pledge Arena
  • Team Colors – Thunder green, lightning yellow, bolt green
  • Main Sponsor – Swedish Medical Center
  • Team Owners – Force 10 Hoops LLC
    • Force 10 Hoops LLC – is comprised of three Seattle businesswomen and civic leaders, all season ticket holders, who stepped forward to purchase the Storm in January 2008 so that the team would remain in Seattle. Their actions were driven by their shared commitment to the importance of giving back to the community and to the philosophy that women and girls should have the chance to compete at every level.