Three women hope to accomplish something rare in pro sports — make money by owning a women’s franchise.
Atlanta Dream owner Kathy Betty plugged a gaping hole in her business plan Tuesday by introducing two new partners — philanthropist Mary Brock and business exec Kelly Loeffler — at a Philips Arena news conference. Brock and Loeffler have invested a total of $1 million in the team.
All three said they share the goal of using pro basketball to provide role models and enhanced self-confidence to younger girls.
“I strongly credit my own professional success to the lessons in leadership and character that sports taught me at an early age,” said Loeffler, 40, a former high school basketball player who is now vice president of investor relations and corporate communications at Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange.
All three said they also have a financial goal. They did not invest their money to lose it over the long haul. They are treating the Dream as a business — not a charity — and want to turn a profit.
There are at least six reasons that will be hard to do — competition for the fan and sponsorship dollar from the Falcons, Braves, Hawks, Thrashers, Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets.
That’s why Betty went after investors — to help her collar as many sponsors and ticket buyers as possible, while securing more money for beefed-up marketing efforts.
“I have a story to tell and I [now] have triple the ability to tell my story,” said Betty, 55, who will be the team’s managing partner.
After buying the WNBA team in October 2009, preventing a possible relocation to Tulsa or extinction, Betty has been able to cut the annual loss below the $3 million she inherited. She benefited from the Dream’s successful season that ended just short of a league championship.
To break even, the Dream needs to average about 8,500 paying fans per game. The team averaged about 6,500 last season.
Still, the owners think they could see black ink in 2012.
“If we accomplish our mission for young girls, we’ll accomplish our business model,” said Brock, 61, wife of Coca-Cola Enterprises chief John Brock.
The Dream also announced Tuesday that it has a three-year extension on its Philips Arena lease.
- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat
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