$75 million investment in WNBA the latest step forward for women's basketball
By Taylor Seid
Feb. 24, 2022
Photo Credit: Associated Press
After a devastating year for women’s basketball with the large inequalities seen in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, there is finally a rebound in sight. Late last year, the NCAA made a progressive step when they decided to start using the “March Madness” name and brand for the DI Women’s Basketball Championship.
Implementing the “March Madness” branding for women’s college basketball is not the only recent success for women’s sports. The WNBA recently experienced a historic moment when it raised the largest amount in a single investment round by a women’s sports franchise: $75 million in capital. This capital comes from a group of investors including both current owners in the WNBA and NBA and outside investors, such as Cleveland Browns and Columbus Crew owners Dee Haslam and Whitney Johnson.
In an interview with ESPN, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert talked about how this capital raise will create a huge step forward for the growth of the WNBA. The money will go towards improvements in player and team marketing, the WNBA brand, fan engagement, consumer research, and overall growth of the WNBA as a whole.
The capital raise news comes at a critical time, as the 2021 WNBA season saw major growth with increased regular season ratings. The investment will allow the WNBA to capitalize on this growth and expand on it, thereby creating an improved experience for both fans and players.
While we have seen growth, an area of controversy in the WNBA has been the player experience, specifically player salaries and resources. Although the raise will not directly improve these aspects of the player experience, they will have an impact on the marketing efforts for players, which will help them to elevate their online presence. Along with the players, the investment will improve the overall economic structure of the league, which will result in long-term growth and even a possible expansion in the future.
The WNBA begins its 26th season in May. There is still a long way to go on the road to expansion and substantial growth and equity for the WNBA and its players, but this investment marks a step in the right direction.