Y. Michele Kang has reportedly increased her offer for a controlling stake in the Washington Spirit to $35 million, which is 10 times the most recent public valuation of a National Women’s Soccer League team, and it still likely will not be enough despite already being a co-owner of the team.
The Spirit franchise announced on Tuesday that it — specifically, Steve Baldwin and Bill Lynch, though they are not explicitly named — has entered into exclusive negotiations with a prospective ownership group led by former college soccer player Jennifer Tepper Mackesy and billionaire Todd Boehly.
Mackesy would serve as the Spirit’s representative on the NWSL’s board of governors, should the deal be finalized and approved. The Spirit have been suspended from league governance since late September following a league investigation which uncovered abusive workplace behavior. The league has not explicitly stated how the Spirit could be reinstated (an initial 14-day deadline for response came and went two months ago), but The Equalizer previously confirmed that Baldwin selling his stake in the team is the main piece of that solution.
Boehly is already part owner of MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers, the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.
Baldwin previously pledged to sell the team prior to the end of the calendar year.
Sports Business Journal reported on Tuesday that Kang, who owns a 35% stake in the team now (the same as Baldwin, who was until recently the managing partner and is still the controlling party), upped her initial offer of $25 million to $35 million this week. Two years ago, OL Reign sold for a public valuation of $3.51 million.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that there is another group, which includes current Spirit co-owner Devin Talbott, interested in acquiring the Spirit.
Mackesy is described by the Spirit as “a retail executive and philanthropist” who played college soccer at The College of William and Mary, which Boehly also attended. According to the Spirit: “The group also includes Jonathan Goldstein, Cain International CEO, and Kendrick Ashton and Craig Dixon, Co-Founders, and Co-CEOs of the St. James, a Washington D.C.-based sports, wellness, and entertainment platform.”
Current Spirit players have advocated for Baldwin to sell to Kang over the past few months, during the team’s quest to the 2021 NWSL Championship.
A statement attributed to Mackesy and Boehly read: “Owning a sports team is a community trust and we look forward to working together to support the players, continue the on the field momentum from their championship run, and ensure our club is a positive force in the community as we work toward a final agreement. We are dedicated to building a strong and sustainable future for the club and recognize the importance of consistent engagement and support for the players, staff and fans on and off the field.”