The Atlanta Hawks aren't the only Atlanta basketball team to change ownership this summer. The Atlanta Dream on Saturday announced the transfer of ownership of the WNBA franchise from Kathy Betty to team investors Mary Brock and Kelly Loeffler. The move is pending the approval of the WNBA Board of Governors.
"The Dream will always be very special to me," said Kathy Betty. "We accomplished a lot in the last two seasons - including winning the Eastern Conference Championship and increasing ticket sales and sponsorships. Mary and Kelly's connections to the community and passion for the game have, and will continue to be, great assets to the team. I know the Dream is well positioned for future success."
Kathy Betty bought the Dream in 2009 when it had a reported $3 million in losses. In her first season as owner, the Dream made the playoffs as the East's fourth seed and played their way all the way to the WNBA Finals. That likely reduced the losses but the exact figure is not known.
There was a buzz around the team entering the 2011 season. Atlanta traded for what they thought was the missing piece in point guard Lindsey Harding and many were not only picking the Dream to return to the WNBA Finals but to win the championship. Much of that enthusiasm was lost thanks to a 3-9 start by the team and their attendance has suffered because of it. Atlanta has seen an 11 percent drop in attendance from 2009 and only averaged around 6,200 fans a game during last season. The Dream are averaging around 6,400 fans this season which puts them ahead of only Chicago and Tulsa in the WNBA.
Brock and Loeffler as owners are expected to provide a boost to the team's finances and is expected to boost marketing efforts as the team looks to attract more fans to the game. In a statement released by the team, Kelly Loeffler reaffirms her support of the Dream,
"The Dream has become a valuable asset for the city of Atlanta and we are excited about continuing to build this amazing franchise for the fans and sponsors," said Kelly Loeffler. "We are grateful for the work Kathy did in keeping the team in Atlanta, and look forward to the continued success of this world-class team."
For more on the Atlanta Dream and the WNBA be sure and check out SB Nation's WNBA and women's basketball blog Swish Appeal.