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Atlanta Dream has Two New Owners

January 18,2011

From ajc.com

Atlanta Dream owner Kathy Betty will announce Tuesday that she will be joined by two new owners who are investing a total of $1 million in the WNBA team.

The new owner-investors are Mary Brock, a philanthropist and wife of Coca-Cola Enterprises chief John Brock, and Kelly Loeffler, vice president of investor relations and corporate communications at Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange.

Betty told the AJC she will go from being the sole owner to managing partner of the all-female ownership group.

In looking for investors, Betty said, “I focused on what would take the Dream and professional sports for women to the next level.” Brock and Loeffler “are about the mission and the vision of the Atlanta Dream — inspiring young girls to play sports,” she said.

That mission can get undermined by the financial realities of pro women’s sports. When Betty bought the team 15 months ago, it was losing about $3 million. But during her first year as owner, aided by a team that made it to the league finals before succumbing, the red ink was reduced — although Betty would not say by how much.

Betty hopes to reduce the financial loss further in the upcoming season and then turn a profit in 2012, which will be difficult. The Dream needs to average about 8,500 paying fans per home game at Philips Arena, but they’ve been coming up short by about 2,000 fans per game.

The added investments from Brock and Loeffler will bolster team finances as it attempts to boost its marketing efforts to attract more fans. Betty said she was “definitely open to additional investors” who shared their vision.

Brock and her husband have been active in the local community. They recently made a $3.5 million commitment for the new Georgia Tech football practice facility. They also have an interest in cancer research, funding chairs in biomedical engineering at Emory University and Georgia Tech.

Loeffler oversees investor relations, public relations, marketing and brand strategy at ICE, which operates electronic trading exchanges for investors around the world. Her husband, Jeff Sprecher, is the company’s chairman and CEO.

The team plans a news conference Tuesday at 2 p.m. in Philips Arena to introduce the new owner-investors.

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat