Tuesday, June 10, 2008

WNBA Owners - Where the Cash Comes From

The Dream is his, in more ways than one.

As part of the never-ending quest for knowledge and as the proud possessor of an obsessive-compulsive disorder, I wrote a small run-down of each of the WNBA owners. Hope you enjoy.

Atlanta Dream -- Ron Terwilliger

Terwillinger is not only a homebuilder, he's been one on a massive scale for more than 20 years. He's the chairman/CEO of Trammell Crow Residential, which builds apartments and condominiums, and invested $10 million dollars in the new Atlanta Dream. A philanthropist, Terwilliger is said to be "very rich". However, he's also 67. I suspect that Terwilliger can float the Dream as long as he wants to. He has at least enough money to have made a bid at owning the Braves.

Chicago Sky -- Michael Alter

Alter is another real estate developer, in Alter's case, commercial real estate. (The company runs about $750 billion in projects.) Alter was also well off enough to throw down $10 million for the Sky.

Connecticut Sun -- the Mohegan Indian Tribe

The Sun is the only team in the WNBA that is owned by an ethnic group. Its primary money is from casino gambling, which rakes in over $1 billion a year.

Detroit Shock -- William Davidson

Davidson is the owner of the Detroit Pistons as well. He's a billionaire ($3.5 billion), so money is no problem for him. He got the money manufacturing architectual and automotive glass. The big problem is that Davison is 85, so if he were to pass away, what would happen to the Shock?

Indiana Fever -- Herbert and Melvin Simon

The Simons are billionaires, who also own the Indiana Pacers. They are pretty much America's biggest shopping mall owners. Although the Simons 81 (Mel) and 73 (Herb), Mel's oldest son David (46) is the current CEO of the company. I suspect the control of the Fever will remain in the hands of the Simons.

New York Liberty -- Cablevision (Charles and James Dolan)

The Dolans run the New York Knicks and Madison Square Garden as well. Cablevision earns about $5 billion a year, and a deal is in process to make the company private. I doubt that the Dolans are going to run out of cash anytime soon.

Washington Mystics -- Lincoln Holdings

The partnership known as Lincoln Holdings also owns the Washington Capitals, the Wizards, and the Verizon Center. The majority owner is Ted Leonsis. Leonsis's money is computer money -- he's an AOL executive. I would venture to say that he's financially secure. However, the team's president is another partner at Lincoln Holdings, Sheila Johnson. Johnson is the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television and a billionaire.

Houston Comets -- Hilton Koch

Koch acquired the Comets in 2007. He's the owner of a furniture chain in Houston that makes a lot of wacky ads. Like two of the other owners on this list, putting down $10 million got him a WNBA franchise. My suspicion is that the Houston franchise is in deeper trouble than anyone lets on. Paige Mann, an employee of the Comets under Kock, states that not only did she take a pay cut from the agreed-upon offer for her to assume a basketball operations role, but that she was simply not paid...at all. Oh well, if Koch fails, maybe Mattress Mack will take over.

Los Angeles Sparks -- Carla Christofferson and Kathy Goodman

Christofferson is a full partner at age 31 in the law firm O’Melveny & Myers, a major Los Angeles entertainment-industry law firm. Kathy Goodman helped start an independent production and finance company called Intermedia Films and was a former executive. She now works at a high school teacher. Together, they put up the $10 million it took to buy the Sparks.

Minnesota Lynx -- Glen Taylor

Glen Taylor is a billionaire and was an influential Minnesota politician, making his money from the manufacture of specialized printed materials, like wedding invitations. He owns the Timberwolves and would like to own the Twins and the Vikings. Worth over $2 billion.

Phoenix Mercury -- Robert Sarver

Sarver is the current majority owner of the Mercury. He was the founder of the National Bank of Arizona, which for a long time was Arizona's largest independent bank. He also acquired several other banks, serves as CEO of Western Alliance Bancorporation and is the owner of the Phoenix Suns. He is worth around $400 million.

Sacramento Monarchs -- The Maloof Family

Headed by Joe and Gavin Maloof, the Maloofs made their cash in hotels, casinos, and alcohol distribution. Each of the Maloof brothers is supposedly worth $100 million.

San Antonio Silver Stars -- Peter Holt

Holt made his cash in farm equipment, building up a small Caterpillar dealership into one of the largest in the country. He's worth $80 million, and thankfully for the Silver Stars, he's a big believer in supporting the San Antonio community.

Seattle Storm -- Force 10 Hoops LLC

Force 10 Hoops LLC is a group of four Storm season-ticket holders that wanted to make sure the Storm stayed in Seattle if the SuperSonics left. They are the only female owners in the WNBA. They range from a philanthropist to an ex-Deputy Mayor to two former executives at Microsoft. They pooled together the $10 million dollars it took to purchase the Storm.

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