By: Emily Caron


The owners of the Chicago Sky have sold 10% of the team to a group of eight investors, most of them women, at an $85 million valuation—the second-highest in the league behind Seattle. The Storm raised $21 million from 15 new investors earlier this year at a $130 million valuation (which was widely reported as a $151 million post-money valuation).

“It was important for us to go public with this because it’s a signal that capital is bullish about this [being] where people want to make significant investments for returns over time,” Nadia Rawlinson, who started in a newly created role as the Sky’s operating chairman earlier this year, said. “That is a huge vote of confidence, not just for us, but for the league as a whole.”


The sales are still subject to formal approval by the WNBA’s Board of Governors.

The new investors include Laura Ricketts, co-owner of MLB’s Chicago Cubs, and Foot Locker CEO Mary Dillon as well as Laura Desmond, CEO of, founder and CEO of private equity firm Eagle Vista Partners and operating partner at Providence Equity Partners. Other newcomers are Cari Sacks, chair of the board of trustees at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art; Tina Tchen, former president and CEO of Time’s Up and current chief strategy and impact officer at the Obama Foundation and principal at Seneca Strategies; and Anne Sempowski Ward, CEO of Curio Brands—giving Chicago one of the most diverse ownership groups in the league.

Rawlinson, a Silicon Valley veteran who joined the team in January as co-owner, and John Rogers, one of the Sky’s early minority owners, are also investing additional money in the team. Specific details of the investments were not disclosed; it is unclear how much of the team each new owner will hold or how the raise dilutes existing shareholders. The valuation was done by Chicago investment bank Loop Capital’s advisory practice.

Michael Alter will remain the club’s principal owner. Harvey Alter, Margaret Stender and Chicago’s other existing limited partners also remain invested. Rawlinson said it was important for the team to reflect the diversity of the league’s players and Chicago’s fans in its ownership, as well as in the way it deploys the new capital and makes business decisions.

“Everyone has their place,” Rawlinson said. “This is a long-term investment and play that we’re making, and these people believe in the future we’re trying to get to. Everyone believes their contribution, not just financially but their own expertise and advice as well, will increase the overall value of the franchise.”

The raises in both Chicago and Seattle mark a dramatic rise in valuation for WNBA teams, which have sold for as little as around $2 million as recently as 2021, when Mark Davis bought the reigning champion Las Vegas Aces. Both also come as the league continues an expansion process where it will seek a fee significantly higher than its last expansion round, when the Atlanta Dream joined in 2008.


Chicago will focus on deploying the $8.5 million raised in three key areas: player experience, marketing and staffing, with a priority on constructing a practice facility for the Sky.

The franchise, which was founded prior to the 2006 season, won its first championship in 2021. The team currently plays at Wintrust Arena, located on Chicago’s South Side, and is actively scouting locations for the new practice facility, looking to keep up with the likes of the Storm and the Aces, who opened their own state-of-the-art facilities this spring. After raising money to fund construction, Seattle broke ground on its facility in late March with the goal of completion by next spring. Rawlinson said ownership has set a budget for Chicago’s project but doesn’t yet have a timeline. The team hopes to have a practice venue to call home shortly after the 2024 season.

“One of our goals is for this to be a place that’s not just for the Sky, but for the community writ large—not something that feels tucked away in this paragon of exceptionalism, but something that embodies that this team is in and of Chicago,” Rawlinson said.

The emphasis on player accommodations also includes improvements to health and wellness offerings like equipment and nutritional support. The team also has plans to make “significant” investments in marketing and the fan experience to grow both brand awareness and loyalty. In time, Chicago says it will invest in additional personnel for the front office to support the new initiatives.