The National Women’s Hockey League closed a new round of equity funding on Thursday.
The NWHL now has a group of more than 20 investors, including Neil Leibman, a co-owner of MLB’s Texas Rangers, Joel Leonoff, the Vice Chairman of the PaySafe Group, Michael Gilfillan, the former co-owner of the New Jersey Devils, Lee Heffernan, the Founding Partner of the W Agency and Matthew Arpano, Managing Director at Silvercrest Asset Management Group. According to the league, everyone that invested at the start, in 2015, is still with the league.
“The funding gives us the flexibility of either selling an expansion market or our league owning it at the outset,” commissioner Dani Rylan said.
The NWHL is in its fifth season. The league expanded its schedule to 24 regular season games for each of the five teams, plus increased its salary cap to $150,000 per team — up 50 percent from $100,000 last season. Additionally, for the first time, players are receiving a 50 percent split of revenue from all league-level sponsorship and media deals. That includes the league’s new three-year streaming partnership with Twitch. According to the NWHL, there were 949,065 total viewers for October games on Twitch, with an average of 67,790 viewers per game. The league does not yet have attendance figures for this season.
In September, the Boston Pride were purchased by a team of investors, led by Miles Arnone. The NWHL owns and operates the four other franchises, though that could change.
Rylan said the league will continue to work with The Sports Advisory Group “to find great owners for our teams.” Rylan said the sale of the Pride has been “phenomenal for the Pride and our league.”