Mar 15, 2024 - Sports

San Diego Wave sold for $120M, an NWSL record

San Diego Wave players huddle on the soccer field.

The San Diego Wave huddle during an NWSL match. Photo: Alan Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The San Diego Wave is being sold to new owners in a deal valued at $120 million, as first reported by Sportico Thursday night.

Why it matters: That's a record-breaking price for an NWSL club — nearly double the $63 million paid earlier this year for the Portland Thorns, per The Athletic.

Driving the news: Principal owner Ron Burkle agreed to sell the professional women's soccer club to the Levine Leichtman family in a two-part deal.

  • The sale was approved by the league's board earlier this week, according to the Athletic.
  • Burkle will r owner for the 2024 season as part of the deal.

By the numbers: Lauren Leichtman and her husband Arthur Levine, founders of a Los Angeles-based private equity firm, are first paying $35 million for 35% of the team, Sportico reported.

  • They reportedly agreed to buy the other 65% for $78 million after this season.
  • The deal carries a weighted average of $113 million, but the valuation in the second transaction is $120 million, per Sportico.

What they're saying: The Wave issued statements for the "new investors joining as minority" owners but did not confirm details of the sale to Axios.

  • Leichtman said in a statement she is "excited to join forces with San Diego Wave FC and help build upon the impressive foundation established by Ron Burkle."
  • The investment aligns with her family's values of empowering women and fostering "opportunities for aspiring female athletes," she said.

Context: Burkle paid a $2 million expansion fee for the Wave to join the NWSL for the 2022 season.

  • The team burst onto the scene, breaking attendance records, competing for a top spot in the league and making an historic run in the playoffs.
  • The Wave won the 2023 regular season but lost in the semifinal game of the league championship.
  • "We are proud of the unprecedented success we have had as an expansion team and ... their family's investment will contribute to the growth of the team," Burkle said in a statement of the new ownership deal.

What's next: The Wave kick off the Challenge Cup against the 2023 NWSL Champions, NJ/NY Gotham FC, on Friday at 5pm PT at Red Bull Arena.


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