Magic Johnson and Dodgers chairman Mark Walter have partnered to buy the Los Angeles Sparks, the league announced on Wednesday.
"Their knowledge of L.A., their passion for sports in L.A., it's just a great thing," WNBA president Laurel Richie told ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel. "I could say it a million times: We are truly, truly excited."
Writes ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne: "The Sparks, one of the original eight WNBA franchises, have been in limbo since Christmas when their previous owner, Paula Madison, abruptly told the league and Sparks coaches and employees that her company could no longer operate the team. Madison subsequently told the Associated Press that her family lost $12 million operating the franchise since buying it from the Buss family in 2007 and $1.4 million last season."
The Golden State Warriors were interested in buying the Sparks from the league and moving them to the Bay Area, which has a large women's basketball fan base from the strong collegiate programs at Stanford and Cal, Shelburne reports. But Johnson and Walter swooped in to keep the team in Los Angeles.
The Sparks have been in existence since 1997 and won WNBA titles in 2001 and 2002. They have played in the Staples Center since 2001.
They are led by reigning WNBA MVP Candace Parker.
New owner @MagicJohnson & @WNBAPrez Laurel Richie at today's announcement! pic.twitter.com/PQ6FSEuyOT
— Los Angeles Sparks (@LA_Sparks) February 5, 2014
Words cant describe how pumped I am. I aspire to do what youve done @MagicJohnson win championshipS... #LetsDoThis — Candace Parker (@Candace_Parker) February 5, 2014