The Washington Spirit on Wednesday announced the addition of a high-profile group of investors representing sports, business and politics, including Chelsea Clinton and Jenna Bush Hager.
Steve Baldwin, managing partner of the National Women’s Soccer League team, declined to say how much stake the incoming group will control. However, he, Bill Lynch and Y. Michele Kang will maintain majority control of the organization, which was launched in 2013.
Not all of the newcomers are investing the same amount, Baldwin added.
“Every person who has joined is not only providing capital but also providing time to make a difference for the club,” he said. “Their support is in business development, content, the community and player experiences.”
Baldwin, a local tech executive, became the Spirit’s largest stakeholder about two years ago, joining founding owner Lynch. Kang joined in December.
Other new investors include Bonnie McElveen Hunter, the American Red Cross’s board chair; Fannie Mae chief operating officer Kimberly Johnson; Children’s National Hospital President Kurt Newman; Tracy Fitzsimmons, president of Shenandoah University; and Los Angeles business executive Assia Grazioli-Venier, a board member for Italian soccer giant Juventus.
“I think this is going to add a great level of stability to this league,” said Scurry, a longtime U.S. national team goalkeeper and Hall of Famer. “I am one of the few players who has been through three iterations of women’s leagues, and the approach the Spirit is taking is really going to help in the long run.”
Scurry’s wife, Chryssa Zizos, a public relations executive, is also investing.
Baldwin said the effort began about seven months ago by using connections he, Lynch and Kang had in various circles.
“Basically, it was pulling the threads on relationships and seeing where they led us to,” he said. “It opened the doors to a pretty impressive group of folks. … It became a snowball as people got involved and thought about the story of elevating women and positively impacting kids.”
Clinton, 40, and Hager, 39, have become friends since their shared experiences as daughters of U.S. presidents. Clinton holds a prominent role in the foundation named for her family; Hager is a co-host of NBC’s “Today With Hoda & Jenna.”
Dawes, 44, is from Montgomery County and won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Scurry, 49, won two gold medals and anchored the 1999 squad that won the World Cup. She lives in Alexandria.
The announcement comes three weeks after the North Carolina Courage added tennis star Naomi Osaka to its investment team. Last summer, Angel City FC, a 2022 expansion team from Los Angeles, unveiled a star-studded group featuring actresses Natalie Portman, Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain and tennis icon Serena Williams.
After eight years at Maryland SoccerPlex, the Spirit will play all home games this season at 20,000-seat Audi Field in the District or 5,000-seat Segra Field in Leesburg. The 10-team NWSL will begin the season April 9 with the Challenge Cup and start the regular season May 15.
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