Former United States Senator Kelly Loeffler’s tumultuous tenure as a WNBA team co-owner has ended as retired league star Renee Montgomery and other investors have been approved to buy the Atlanta Dream.
A sales price for the WNBA franchise has not been disclosed. In addition to Loeffler, Dream co-owner Mary Brock is also selling her shares.
Loeffler, a Republican appointed to the senate in 2019 by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, lost a runoff election to Democrat Raphael Warnock in January after clashing with league players over the Black Lives Matter movement. Loeffler objected to players kneeling in protest of racism during the national anthem, which resulted in a coordinated effort by much of the league to support Warnock’s candidacy.
Former United States Senator Kelly Loeffler’s tumultuous tenure as a WNBA team co-owner has ended as retired league star Renee Montgomery (left) and other investors have been approved to buy the Atlanta Dream. A sales price for the WNBA franchise has not been disclosed. In addition to Loeffler (right), Dream co-owner Mary Brock is also selling her shares
Montgomery won a pair of WNBA titles with the Minnesota Lynx in 2015 and 2017, and also garnered an All-Star selection and a WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year award. In this picture from 2019, Montgomery is seen playing for the Atlanta Dream – a team she now owns
Owning a WNBA franchise has been a dream for former league star Renee Montgomery
Warnock’s campaign team has credited the Dream players for helping him raise $236,000 in donations.
The WNBA and the NBA Boards of Governors announced their approval on Friday afternoon.
Montgomery, who recently retired after sitting out the 2020 season to focus on social justice, is the first former player to become both owner and executive for a WNBA team.
‘My Dream has come true,’ the 34-year-old Montgomery 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!’
In response, Atlanta Dream players, as well as players from the Seattle Storm, Chicago Sky and Phoenix Mercury, wore ‘Vote Warnock’ on T-shirts before games at the WNBA’s bubble in August. The idea originated with Storm star Sue Bird (pictured), who led a conference call with other players to finalize plans
The other two members of the investment group are Larry Gottesdiener, chairman of real estate firm Northland, and Suzanne Abair, the president and Chief Operating Officer of the same company.
‘I admire their passion for women’s basketball, but more importantly, have been impressed with their values,’ said WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert of Gottesdiener and Abair.
‘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.’
‘It is a privilege to join a team of inspiring women who strive for excellence on the court and equity off the court,’ Gottesdiener said.
Loeffler became a household name outside of Georgia last summer when she publicly disagreed with the WNBA over its support of Black Lives Matter. She repeatedly criticized the social justice movement and openly expressed her dismay with the WNBA’s display of ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the court during last season’s bubble in Florida.
At the height of the controversy, Engelbert opted to avoid taking any action against Loeffler, who co-owned the Dream with Brock since 2011.
The Atlanta Dream was not the only WNBA team to come out in support of Raphael Warnock. In this picture, members of the Seattle Storm wear ‘Vote Warnock’ t-shirts back in August
Republican Kelly Loeffler (right, talking with Dwight Howard in July of 2019) lost her reelection campaign to Raphael Warnock after months of activism from WNBA players who objected to her stance on social justice issues and called for her removal from the ownership team
In response, Atlanta Dream players, as well as players from the Seattle Storm, Chicago Sky and Phoenix Mercury, wore ‘Vote Warnock’ on T-shirts before games at the WNBA’s bubble in August.
The idea originated with Storm star Sue Bird, who led a conference call with other players to finalize plans.
Dream players and other WNBA stars stumped for Raphael Warnock’s successful campaign
‘We are @WNBA players, but like the late, great John Lewis said, we are also ordinary people with extraordinary vision,’ Dream forward Elizabeth Williams tweeted at the time. ‘@ReverendWarnock has spent his life fighting for the people and we need him in Washington. Join the movement for a better Georgia at Warnockforgeorgia.com.’
Loeffler responded to the move by decrying ‘cancel culture.’
‘This is just more proof that the out of control cancel culture wants to shut out anyone who disagrees with them,’ she said in an August statement. ‘It’s clear that the league is more concerned with playing politics than basketball.’
The price Loeffler paid for her stake in the team’s parent company in 2011 has not been revealed, nor has the franchise’s estimated value. In 2008, businessman Ron Terwilliger reportedly paid $10 million to buy into the league and start the expansion Atlanta Dream.
Montgomery won a pair of WNBA titles with the Minnesota Lynx in 2015 and 2017, and also garnered an All-Star selection and a WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year award.