When the owners of the Seattle Storm — Lisa Brummel, Ginny Gilder and Dawn Trudeau — decided to pursue the construction of a standalone training facility last year, they realized it would require a bank loan and the potential sale of team equity to finance the $64 million in construction costs. The Storm ultimately hired consulting firm CAA ICON to value the team for prospective lenders and investors alike. The result of the months-long valuation process was stunning.
According to CAA ICON Vice President Josh Cohen, the agency took a multifaceted approach to valuing the team that considered not only the Storm’s finances and the Seattle market, but also the growth trajectory of the WNBA and surging investment throughout women’s sports. The consulting firm could not rely much on WNBA-specific comparable transactions, since many of the league’s past team deals were distressed or forced sales, but CAA ICON also took into account transactions in other women’s leagues as well as the WNBA’s league-level investment round.
For CAA ICON’s Cohen, the Storm transaction is proof positive that the WNBA, which played its first season in 1997, is at long last showing returns on its decades of investment, and that the rest of the league stands to benefit.
“It really shows that the appreciation and values of the WNBA teams can be realized. It shows that the current team owners, as well as the league level, are making the right investments,” said Cohen. “Whether that’s from increasing spending on facilities or increasing dollars to the salary cap and player salaries, all of those examples show that the growth is real in the WNBA and that there’s still additional room for the league to grow and team values will follow.”
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