January 30, 2024
Golden State WNBA team gets its president
Jess Smith will serve as the franchise’s first team president
The Golden State Warriors still-unnamed WNBA team took another big step toward reality Tuesday with the announcement that former Angel City Football Club (FC) and veteran professional sports executive Jess Smith, who will be introduced at a press conference at Chase Center Tuesday evening, will serve as the franchise’s first team president. Smith will begin her tenure on Feb. 14.
“Jess is a proven leader and the perfect fit to guide our WNBA team as we begin this exciting new endeavor,” Warriors president Brandon Schneider said in a team release. “She brings a strategic and innovative business approach, in addition to an impressive track record for exceeding financial and overall goals. Those intangibles will benefit us greatly as we aim to build a world-class franchise that will establish strong and impactful business initiatives off the court, and compete for championships on it.”
Smith, in the same release, called it “an incredible opportunity to build a WNBA team.”
“Women’s sports fans demand – and deserve authenticity and a commitment to greatness, two things the Warriors organization has strongly demonstrated,” Smith said. “That is what attracted me to this role…I cannot wait to join this franchise with the opportunity to impact and transform our local community and the women’s sports ecosystem.”
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Smith is known as an innovative business leader in professional women’s sports. She spent three and a half years with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Los Angeles franchise, helping to oversee its successful launch in one of the nation’s biggest media markets. Smith served as the head of revenue since September of 2021, initially coming on as Angel FC’s head of corporate partnerships in October 2020 and oversaw partnerships, ticketing, operations, broadcast and strategic relationships.
Smith’s unique partnership models with Angel FC included investments in the club’s community equity and education initiatives, a player-funding model that provided a one percent share of ticket sales revenue for those who helped to promote the team on social media, and the creation of a fund to support retired players. She also served as the team’s chief business officer in relations with the NWSL and oversaw the team’s ticketing and data departments. Angel City renewed more than 90% of its season ticket members heading into 2024.
Smith, named to the 2023 Sports Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list and the 2023 Leaders in Sport Under 40 class, has deep Bay Area sports roots, serving as both the vice president of sponsorship with the San Jose Earthquakes for four years and more than six years in the front office of the Oakland Athletics from 2008-2015. In addition, she has experience in both the NHL and minor-league baseball.
The Warriors announced their WNBA expansion team in October, the first new franchise to join the league since 2008. The team will begin play in the 2025 season. The team will be headquartered in Oakland, with games at the Chase Center in San Francisco.
Season ticket deposits are currently on sale, and approximately 4,000 have been processed, Schneider told ESPN, for the team that still needs a name, a front-office structure, and a roster of players. But Smith’s hiring sets the stage for all the announcements still to come.
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Written by Michelle Smith
Michelle Smith has covered women's basketball nationally for nearly three decades. Smith has worked for ESPN.com, The Athletic, the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as Pac-12.com and WNBA.com. She was named to the Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame in 2015, is the 2017 recipient of the Jake Wade Media Award from the Collegiate Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA) and was named the Mel Greenberg Media Award winner by the WBCA in 2019.