A group led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly and US Squash board member Jennifer Mackesy has entered exclusive negotiations to acquire the NWSL-champion Washington Spirit, according to multiple people familiar with the talks.
The team, which hit the market in the aftermath of an abuse scandal that shook the league, won its first NWSL title last month. The bid group also includes Jonathan Goldstein, CEO of real estate investment firm Cain International, and The St. James, a sports and wellness club in nearby Springfield, Va.
Should a deal be reached, Mackesy would represent the franchise at league meetings, according to one of the people, who was granted anonymity because the negotiations are private.
Financial specifics of the negotiations aren’t known. Boehly declined to comment. Controlling owner Steve Baldwin and a spokeswoman for the team didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
Boehly, who is co-founder and chairman of Eldridge, has invested heavily across sports. In addition to the Dodgers, he’s a minority owner in the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, esports org Cloud9 and data firm Sportradar. Eldridge’s portfolio also includes DraftKings and Epic Games.
Mackesy spent 10 years in the retail industry, including time as a vice president at Lord & Taylor. She serves on a number of boards, and is a significant donor to William & Mary athletics (where she played college soccer and also Boehly’s alma mater). The potential ownership group is even more intertwined—Cain International is a partnership between Goldstein and Boehly’s Eldridge, and also an investor in The St. James.
The NWSL is coming off a season marred by allegations of abuse by coaches and the league’s mishandling of those accusations. The scandal led to a shake-up at both the central league office (commissioner Lisa Baird resigned in October) and at a handful of teams, including the Spirit.
Baldwin, who has owned the team since 2019, presided over what some employees called a toxic “old boys’ club” and oversaw the hiring of coach Richie Burke despite allegations that Burke had treated youth players abusively in prior jobs. Burke was then accused of verbal and emotional abuse by multiple Spirit players, and was later fired. Baldwin’s decision to sell came after public lobbying from many of his players, who asked that he sell to female minority owner Y. Michele Kang. (Kang was also interested in purchasing Baldwin’s stake).
The abuse scandal came in the middle of a season that was shaping up to be a big commercial success, with a handful of new sponsorship deals and a growing media presence. In the aftermath, the NWSL has also signed two of the largest corporate partnerships in its history—an extension with Nike and a new deal with cryptocurrency platform Voyager Digital.
In February the Spirit announced more than 40 new investors, including Chelsea Clinton, Jenna Bush Hager, former U.S. national team goalie Breanna Scurry and Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes. Other recent high-profile investors in the league include Naomi Osaka (North Carolina Courage) and a star-studded group for a Los Angeles expansion franchise, headlined by Serena Williams, Natalie Portman, Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach.