WNBA’s Atlanta Dream on verge of being sold

The Atlanta Dream are on the verge on being sold.

Co-owned by former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the team has been embroiled in conflict over her remarks about the Black Lives Matter movement. Dream players were open in their support of the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who defeated Loeffler in a runoff election for her Senate seat earlier this month.

Despite remarks that she did not plan to sell the WNBA franchise, co-owned with Mary Brock since 2011, the league expects an imminent sale.

A WNBA spokesperson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “As it relates to the Atlanta Dream, we understand a sale of the franchise is close to being finalized. Once the sale negotiation is concluded, additional information will be provided.”

A spokesperson for the Dream had no comment.

Dream players protested Loeffler comments about the Black Lives Matter movement last year by wearing the T-shirts and with social-media posts. They wore the T-shirts before a nationally televised game against Phoenix. Several players were active in the process leading to the runoff election, including taking part in videos encouraging participation in the election.

The issue between owner and team began in the summer amid the nationwide protests over social-justice issues and the Black Lives Matter movement.

“There is no room for racism in this country. We cannot have it,” Loeffler said in July. “But there is an organization, different from the saying, an organization called Black Lives Matter founded on Marxist principles. Marxism supports socialism.”

Loeffler demanded that the WNBA abandon plans to honor the Black Lives Matter movement and instead put an American flag on every jersey. She wrote a letter to WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert stating her belief.

The players’ union called for Loeffler to be removed from ownership, but Engelbert said Loeffler would not be forced to sell, noting she was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the team.

“I’m actually shocked by her actions. Sometimes you gotta play the political game, and I get it. But don’t mess with us in this political game,” former Dream player Angel McCoughtry told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in July. “If this is the person that she really is, I know that I don’t wanna be around someone who just doesn’t advocate for what’s right.”

Pressed in July about her stake in the Dream, Loeffler said she hadn’t decided whether she would sell the team and blamed the criticism on a broader “cancel culture” she said the Black Lives Matter protests fueled.

According to a person familiar with the situation, the Dream have lost $2 million in each of the past two years.

It appears Loeffler’s intention involving the Dream have changed. It is not known whether the impending sale would mean the franchise would be moved from Atlanta. They currently are scheduled to play in College Park after last year’s WNBA season was completed in a bubble in Florida because of the coronavirus pandemic.

-Staff writers Nedra Rhone, Bria Felicien and Greg Bluestein contributed to this article.

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