Dodgers Team News

Dodgers’ Owners Eyeing Success in Women’s Sports Ventures

Billie Jean King is perhaps the most visible member of the Guggenheim Baseball partners, the business entity that owns the Los Angeles Dodgers. The former star tennis player and entrepreneur is a mainstay in the owner’s box at Dodger Stadium home games.

She’s also a pioneer for women’s sports on many levels. Her victory over Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match in 1973 is credited with catalyzing participation in women’s sports. King also co-founded World Team Tennis in 1973 and sold her majority ownership stake in 2017, a year before she and partner Ilana Kloss bought into the Dodgers as minority owners.

Since then, King has also invested in the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, Angel City FC of the National Women’s Soccer League, and the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) – another joint ownership venture with Dodgers chairman Mark Walter and CEO Stan Kasten.

The WNBA is enjoying unprecedented visibility thanks to a record-setting NCAA women’s tournament and a draft Monday night that saw Iowa star Caitlin Clark go first overall to the Indiana Fever. It’s a particularly exciting time for Kasten, who owns a stake in the Sparks along with King and Guggenheim co-owners Walter, Todd Boehly and Bobby Patton.

“Caitlin Clark is one very cool phenomenon, but it’s just the latest,” Kasten told Dodgers Nation, “and it’s the harbinger of future greatness and recognition of these talented women athletes.”

King might be too modest to acknowledge her role as a catalyst for today’s surge in interest in women’s sports, but Kasten certainly is not.

“If you want one person, it goes back 50 years and Billie Jean King, the Bobby Riggs match, and all of that stuff they had to endure,” Kasten said. “I’m not going to compare (King to) Jackie Robinson … but they had to put up with a lot of crap from sponsors who didn’t feel the value was there.

“It’s going to take a lot more years to build up until things are equal.”

In one unprecedented way, interest in women’s sports is already trending ahead. According to ESPN and Nielsen, the NCAA women’s basketball championship between Iowa and South Carolina drew more than 18.9 million viewers on average. 

Meanwhile, the men’s matchup between UConn and Purdue drew 14.8 million viewers – four million less than the women’s championship. That had never happened in the history of the two tournaments.

The Dodgers’ owners are heavily invested in the success of several women’s sports ventures. Can the surge in popularity in one women’s sport bleed into others? 

While cause and effect might be hard to determine, Kasten said momentum and interest in women’s sports has been trending in the right direction for some time now.

“We see franchise values in the NWSL and in the WNBA, and my favorite part of this story is the unbelievable reception the PWHL will receive in Montreal this Saturday. We sold out the Bell Centre in 20 minutes.

“It’s been extraordinary.”

J.P. Hoornstra contributed to this story.

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? Subscribe and hit that notification bell to stay up to date on all the latest Dodgers news, rumors, interviews, livestreams, and more!

Maren Angus

Maren Angus-Coombs was born in Los Angeles and raised in Nashville, Tenn. She is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and has been a sports writer since 2008. Despite being raised in the South, her sports obsession has always been in Los Angeles. She is currently a staff writer for Dodgers Nation and the LA Sports Report Network.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button