The Atlanta Dream have a new ownership team.
On Friday, the WNBA and NBA Boards of Governors announced the news after many athletes and fans called for co-owner and former Sen. Kelly Loeffler to sell the team.
The WNBA and NBA Boards of Governors unanimously approved the sale of the Atlanta Dream to a three-member investor group comprised of Larry Gottesdiener, chairman of real estate firm Northland and Northland President and Chief Operating Officer Suzanne Abair, as well as former Dream star Renee Montgomery. Montgomery becomes the first former player to be an owner and executive of a WNBA team.
"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," WNBA Commissioner Cathy 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."
In his first statement as new co-owner, Gottesdiener said, "It is a privilege to join a team of inspiring women who strive for excellence on the court and equity off the court. I would like to express my gratitude to Commissioner Engelbert, Commissioner Silver, and the WNBA and NBA Boards of Governors for the opportunity."
"My Dream has come true," Montgomery, 34, said in a statement. "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. I invite you to join me as the Dream builds momentum in Atlanta!"
Earlier this month, Montgomery — who chose to sit out the 2020 season to focus on social justice issues — announced her retirement from the league after 11 seasons. Montgomery played with the Dream during the 2018 and 2019 seasons and helped lead the 2018 team to franchise-record regular-season wins.
Ex co-owner Loeffler also shared a statement along with former co-owner Mary Brock. "Ten years ago we stepped up to keep the Dream in Atlanta, as an important asset for a vibrant and diverse city. It was also important to us to help level the playing field for women's professional sports," they said. "We are proud of what we accomplished and wish the team well in their next chapter. We will always value the hard work and dedication, and the memories, fans and friendships that sustained our commitment to the Atlanta Dream over the last decade."
Both Brock and Loeffler, a Republican who criticized the Black Lives Matter movement and was recently defeated by Rev. Raphael Warnock during the Georgia Senate runoff for her seat, sold their team shares.
Calls for Loeffler to be removed from the Dream's ownership team came after she wrote a letter to league commissioner Engelbert in July and denounced plans for players to wear shirts with slogans calling attention to police violence. "The truth is, we need less — not more — politics in sports," Loeffler, who was no longer involved with day-to-day operations with the team, wrote at the time.
In the summer of 2020, Breanna Stewart, Candace Parker and Sue Bird were among the many athletes who spoke out against Loeffler, with the latter coming up with the idea for WNBA players to wear shirts with "Vote Warnock" on them in support of Loeffler's Democratic opponent.
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