WNBA Announces Sale of Los Angeles Sparks to Independent Ownership Group

NEW YORK, Dec. 7, 2006 -- The WNBA Board of Governors has approved the sale of the Los Angeles Sparks to an investment group led by Katherine E. Goodman and Carla J. Christofferson, it was announced today by Sparks President Johnny Buss and league President Donna Orender.

Goodman and Christofferson, both based in Los Angeles, bring a combined 35 years of business expertise and community leadership to the Sparks. Goodman is a former motion picture industry executive, who founded Intermedia Films and served as its President of West Coast Operations. During her tenure, the company produced and financed more than 25 feature films including “The Wedding Planner” and “Sliding Doors.” Christofferson is a litigation partner at O’Melveny & Myers where her primary areas of practice include entertainment, commercial and major tort litigation.

The franchise will continue to be based in Los Angeles and play at STAPLES Center.

“Kathy and I have witnessed first-hand as the WNBA has evolved into the premier women’s professional sports league in the world,” said Christofferson. “The WNBA and the Sparks are powerful national brands with a loyal fan base. The Sparks are perennial title contenders that deliver great entertainment and are a compelling source of inspiration for our youth. We fully intend to continue and strengthen these traditions while also creating new ones.”

One of the league’s original eight teams, the Sparks, under the ownership of the Buss family, won league championships in 2001 and 2002.

“The WNBA wants to thank the Buss family for its leadership of one of the WNBA’s most successful franchises; they are leaving an indelible imprint on the league,” said Orender. “At the same time we want to congratulate Katherine and Carla. With their proven track records in the business world, their passion for the game and their commitment to the community, we are confident they will achieve new heights with the Sparks.”

“After 10-years of blood and sweat, but not too many tears, I decided last year that it would be best for me to step down,” team President Johnny Buss said. “Rather than retain ownership and have operations of the team in non-family hands, we decided that the sale to new and committed ownership would be in the team’s best interest.

“It was a very fulfilling 10 years for me, more so because of the phenomenal fans we’ve had and for the two championships we won. I will always appreciate the support we received and I look forward now to being able to sit with them and cheer for the Sparks and support Kathy and Carla. They are in for an exhilarating experience.”

In October 2002, the NBA Board of Governors approved the transition of WNBA teams from operating agreements to individual ownership rights allowing WNBA teams to be located in non-NBA markets and owned by non-NBA owners both in and out of NBA cities.

The Mohegan Sun tribe became the first independent ownership group when they purchased the Connecticut Sun in 2003. That was followed by the purchase of the Washington Mystics in 2005 by Lincoln Holdings and by Michael Alter’s purchase of the expansion Chicago Sky in 2006.

The WNBA’s 2007 game and television schedule will be announced in the next few weeks.

About the WNBA
In 2006, the WNBA concluded its historic tenth season with an action-packed WNBA Finals. The 2006 WNBA Finals presented by Vonage capped a playoff run in which the WNBA saw significant increases in attendance and viewership. The Finals, which aired live on ESPN2, saw the Detroit Shock top the Sacramento Monarchs in the first WNBA Finals match up ever to go to a fifth and deciding game.