WNBA approves sale of Dream, ending Loeffler’s ownership

Georgia News

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., one of two Republican candidates who were defeated in Georgia’s pivotal Senate runoff elections, arrives on Capitol Hill as the Senate returns to work, in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, a day before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

ATLANTA (AP) — Real estate investor Larry Gottesdiener was approved Friday as the lead owner of the Atlanta Dream following pressure on former Sen. Kelly Loeffler to sell her share of the WNBA team.

The three-member investor group also includes former Dream guard Renee Montgomery and Suzanne Abair, president of Northland Investment Corp. in Massachusetts, the firm Gottesdiener founded.

Montgomery becomes the first former player to become both an owner and executive of a WNBA team. She sat out the 2020 season to focus on social justice issues and recently announced her retirement from the league after 11 seasons.

The approval by the WNBA and NBA Board of Governors was expected and unanimous. It means co-owner Mary Brock also sold her share of the team, which will remain in Atlanta.

The WNBA announced on Jan. 20 the ownership change was close to being completed.

Players around the league have called for Loeffler to sell her 49% stake in the Dream after she wrote a letter to WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert over the summer objecting to the league’s initiatives to advocate for racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement.

FILE – Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery (21) passes the ball in the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Chicago Sky in Atlanta, in this Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019, file photo. Larry Gottesdiener has been approved as the head of a new three-member ownership group of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream following pressure on former Sen. Kelly Loeffler to sell her share of the team. Friday’s, Feb. 26, 2021, unanimous approval of the sale to Gottesdiener means co-owner Mary Brock also sold her share of the team, which will remain in Atlanta. Gottesdiener is chairman of the real estate firm Northland. The three-member investor group also includes former Dream guard Renee Montgomery and Northland president Suzanne Abair.(AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

“With the unanimous WNBA and NBA votes, today marks a new beginning for the Atlanta Dream organization and we are very pleased to welcome Larry Gottesdiener and Suzanne Abair to the WNBA,” Engelbert said in a statement.

“I admire their passion for women’s basketball, but more importantly, have been impressed with their values. I am also thrilled that former WNBA star Renee Montgomery will be joining the ownership group as an investor and executive for the team. Renee is a trailblazer who has made a major impact both in the game and beyond.”

Montgomery said her new role can set a tone.

“Breaking barriers for minorities and women by being the first former WNBA player to have both a stake in ownership and a leadership role with the team is an opportunity that I take very seriously,” Montgomery said. “I invite you to join me as the Dream builds momentum in Atlanta!”

Montgomery is in her first season as a studio analyst on Atlanta Hawks broadcasts for Fox Sports Southeast.

Montgomery won titles with the Minnesota Lynx in 2015 and 2017. She was an All-Star with the Connecticut Sun in 2011, when she set a career high with her average of 14.6 points per game. She was the WNBA’s Sixth Woman of the Year in 2012.

Gottesdiener said he considers it “a privilege to join a team of inspiring women who strive for excellence on the court and equity off the court.”

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