New Atlanta Dream owners shooting for a profit

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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16 comments Add your comment

Clems boy

January 18th, 2011
6:18 pm

first and last

this makes me want to

January 18th, 2011
6:36 pm


January 18th, 2011
7:27 pm

Good for these women… but don’t look for my support.

I love sports, and the quality of the product on a WNBA court is simply put, poor.

Any marginally good high school men’s team in Atlanta would plow through the Dream. Women just don’t provide the athletic ‘wow’ factor needed to spend money. As previously mentioned, the Dream compete with other and much more entertaining avenues of sports entertainment. This franchise will drown in this town, as it should.

The league itself is a poorly thought up spawn of Title IX that has drained investors for years of profits. The league’s most successful team ever FOLDED. Can you imagine the Yankees or the Packers folding up?

Michael B

January 18th, 2011
8:01 pm

I sincerely hope Matthew is a troll because his thoughts are simply put, poor. He sounds like the type of coach or dad I would keep my children far away from. Luckily, now I know where to take them to do just that.


January 18th, 2011
8:44 pm

The thinking that a women’s team level of play has to be compared to a men’s team is antiquated. 3 of the WNBA teams do not even share a market with a NBA team, The fact that I can take my 4 little sisters and their friends to see women compete on a professional level is priceless.

The wow factor for me is the looks on their faces when they see a team owned by women, coached by women, teams full of college educated women struggle, compete, and never give up. They can see there are other ways to be successful than to use their sexuality to succeed or wait on a man to rescue them because they “can’t do it as well as he can or without him”. They walk away knowing their value has nothing to do with approval from some guy.

Glad to have Kathy Betty and her team in this town. Keep your heads up Dream…I believe! Worth every penny, every time.

Goodbye Football Season (Thanks, Falcons)

January 18th, 2011
9:12 pm

I’m proud of this team for making the Finals last season, but I was disappointed that we couldn’t win a game with home court advantage. I had season tickets the first season, and after seeing the Falcons get emasculated in person on Saturday, I may be getting to more Dream games this summer. Good luck, girls (especially Sancho).

Goodbye Football Season (Thanks, Falcons)

January 18th, 2011
9:13 pm

Can’t win a game with home court advantage…

Thanks again, Falcons!

dream girl

January 18th, 2011
9:24 pm

I have been a season ticket holder since day one and have been more than entertained at every game while watching amazing athletes, and role models on the court and off! I am so excited about the new ownership and the calibur of these successful women owners trying to make a difference in our city and the lives of young girls.

Matthew… I’d be willing to bet any day on a match up with any “marginally good” high school men’s team versus the Dream. I’ve actually been honored to attend a few of their open practices and these ladies practice daily with MEN basketball players, and believe me, they don’t seem to have any trouble holding their own and then some!

The City of Seattle actually raised their WNBA team’s flag on the top of the Space Needle during the Championship series this year AND hosted a sell-out crowd at their home, Key Arena. The LACK of attention from Atlantans and city official when we hosted Seattle in the finals was disappointing… even though we had a “sell out” crowd at Phillips, it was about 5K less people than Seattle. We can do better, and we WILL do better! The Seattle Storm has had HUGE success following the purchase of the team by high profile, female business women in the community, so I sure hope our fair city will get behind our HOME team and show the support to the Dream like Seattle has done.

From what I hear, Dream season tickets have been selling great since our hugely successful 2010 season so, Matthew and all you other nay-sayers, we may not “NEED” you after all… as I have faith that there are others in this city who will be as moved and as entertained by this Dream team as I have!

Looking forward to the June 5th tip off! Go Dream!!

Bored in Atl

January 18th, 2011
10:40 pm

Boring, I guess if you have a daughter that plays basketball this might be entertaining. I would not go to a game with free tickets and free food in the club food area.


January 19th, 2011
12:31 am

We have Club tickets to all events at Philips Arena. We pay $80,000 a year to have them. Before the Dream, we would have high-profile concerts in town throughout the Spring and Summer which made the seats, albeit expensive, somewhat justifiable. Now, we see very few concerts as Philips is rented out to the Dream, but subsidized by the NBA since the Dream don’t DREAM of operating in the black. So, Philips Arena will lose about $100,000 next year in tickets and food and beverage because our contract is up and we will not renew thanks to the Dream.


January 19th, 2011
2:35 am

I love the Dream. I am a huge fan. I played my college ball at a major D-1 university. The only men who hate on womens basketball are the ones who have never played the game, or the ones that suck at it. Most the time it is the fat out of shape men who have no athletic ability. Most men who play the game of basketball respect what these women are doing. You may have a little girl one day or a niece that loves the game of basketball. Don’t you want her to have a chance to play pro one day. Many of you guys that are hating may be upset that these women are making more money then them. A player can make $80,000 (mid-range salary) for four months of playing in the US, then backdoor and go overseas and make $200,000 (mid-range salary) Top names make almost $500,000 bucks to play overseas. If you can’t add a WNBA player can make $280,000 a year. Do you make that much? And those are not the top names. Top names make even more then that. So let’s go Dream!!! Keep doing what you are doing. Katty Betty will get us where we need to be.


January 19th, 2011
12:14 pm

@Mark…well said! Btw, Phillips schedule has not been decreased because of the Dream, not in the least. Phillips is as busy as it can be in a recession. Many top artists can’t tour or cancelled tours because folks were trying to feed their families instead of seeing Bon Jovi. Also, The Atlanta Dream is one of 7 out of 13 teams in the WNBA that are independently owned. They are only supported by the NBA in marketing and administration like any other NBA/WNBA independently owned team.


January 19th, 2011
12:38 pm

Matthew’s ill-informed. These women played against guys all through college—that’s routine, to give them competition against size, speed and skill. The best high school teams might beat them, but not marginal ones. That’s for sue.


January 19th, 2011
12:58 pm

The team is appropriately named.


January 19th, 2011
1:04 pm

And Matthew is right.

If the Dream can’t financially stand on its own and is a financial drag on Philips Arena, it will die in the entertainment/diversions marketplace. As it should – no matter what your or my opinion is.

[...] The Dream also picked up two new owners, joining Kathy Betty. Entering the 2011 season, Atlanta doesn’t expect to make many roster changes, but wants to get stronger at point guard and possibly add a post player. [...]