June 8, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Investment in Sky Town

What does the new Chicago Sky ownership group mean for the team and the league?

In the latest episode of Locked on Women’s Basketball, host Jackie Powell and Chicago Sky beat writer James Kay discuss the off-court news that rocked Chicago this week. The Sky announced their new ownership group that includes Laura Ricketts, co-owner of MLB’s Chicago Cubs, Foot Locker CEO Mary Dillon, Smartly.io CEO Laura Desmond and more. Led by Nadia Rawlinson, the team’s operating chair, the Sky sold 10% of their franchise to the new investors and got their franchise valuated at $85 million. Jackie and James break down what all of this means for the Chicago Sky franchise right now, in the near future and for the WNBA writ large.

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James outlines where the team hopes to put the additional financial investment, including marketing and player experience.

“If you don’t know it already, the Sky practice in Deerfield, Illinois, which is about a 30, 40-minute drive away from the city. And we’ve heard players in the past talk about [how] they actually live closer to Deerfield than they do [to] Chicago. And when you think about the Chicago Sky, and a selling point … of a big market, like Chicago, is that it’s in Chicago. … They have already started the process of scouting out different areas to potentially have a practice facility in the city where it would just be theirs, which would be comparable to some of the other teams in the league with their own player experiences.”

The pair also discuss how the Sky’s valuation impacts the WNBA as a whole.

James said, “I think just seeing that number rise from team to team each time this happens is just an enormous win for the W. I think there’s this apocryphal belief that the WNBA is not succeeding because there’s not enough money in it necessarily. I don’t necessarily believe in that. I do think that when we [see] people come and show the money and invest in these teams and when you look at how the Sky are now, what they’re the second-highest valuation in the WNBA now behind the Storm. You see numbers like that, that I think catch headlines and show people who don’t know what the WNBA’s worth and show like, oh, wait, no, there’s people like this is actually something I can take more seriously.”

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