The sale of the Portland Thorns FC to Raj Sports has been completed, the team announced Wednesday. According to two sources familiar with the agreement, the sale price was $63 million, with the NWSL Board of Governors approving the deal last week in a formal vote. As reported here last month, Lisa Bhathal Mirage will serve as controlling owner of the team and represented on the NWSL Board of Directors. Her brother and partner in several business entities, Alex Bhathal, will serve as alternate governor.
The Bhathals have committed to keeping the team in Portland. The Thorns have a lease agreement in place to play at Providence Park through 2035.
“As fans, and as seasoned sports and real estate operators, we believe in the future of Portland and the National Football League, and in the tremendous opportunity surrounding this iconic team,” Bhathal Miraj said on Wednesday. “We look forward to working with the Timbers throughout this transition period and beyond to ensure the Thorns’ continued success at Providence Park.”
The Thorns' sports operations are now entirely under the control of RAJ Sports. The Timbers organization will also fulfill its promise of operational support this season while the Bhathals build a new front office for the Thorns, from ticket sales to sponsorships and game day operations. The Bhathals have committed to building a new training facility for the club. A Timbers spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday The athlete They offered Providence Park as an ongoing option as the team's free practice facility through 2025 while a new facility is built.
Sources familiar with the sale process said The athlete In December, the new Thorns ownership group had already begun evaluating options for a new practice facility within the Portland market — though they were awaiting staff and player feedback before moving forward with plans. With the sale closed, communication between the Bhathal family and the sporting side of the club is now open. The goal is to have “at least two” training areas, a training and performance center and office space.
While the training facility is a major long-term project, it's not the only one facing the team's new ownership. Building a new front office staff, rebuilding the relationship with the club's dedicated supporters and earning their trust, and looking ahead to the free agency window are all on the list. The Thorns have already lost Crystal Dunn and Michele Vasconcelos to other teams and have retained their veteran core in Christine Sinclair for her final season, and Becky Sauerbrunn and Meghan Klingenberg should be a top priority.
The Thorns have been up for sale for more than a year after Meret Paulsson announced his intention to sell the NWSL club, but not the Timbers, on December 1, 2022. The Thorns have been one of the main clubs highlighted over the past two years in investigative reports and multiple official investigations into abuse. Methodology via NWSL. The Chicago Red Stars, also a center of interest, were purchased by an ownership group led by Laura Ricketts earlier this year for $35.5 million (an additional $25.5 million has been promised to invest in the club).
Portland's high selling price is not surprising considering the team's historical strength when it comes to revenue. according to SporticoThe Thorns are worth $65 million (fourth highest in the league) and have annual revenue of $10.5 million (third highest). These evaluations were completed before the NWSL announced new media rights deals with ESPN/ABC, CBS, Amazon and Scripps for four years, worth $60 million annually.
NWSL unveils TV deals with ESPN, CBS and more
A source familiar with the situation also said the $1 million fine the league imposed on the Portland Thorns in January 2023 has been paid as part of that deal.
The Bhathal family has several investments in sports, including the Sacramento Kings, since 2013. The two brothers are also co-founders of an investment firm called Revitate, which focuses heavily on sports, real estate, and commercial brands. While they are based in California, they have other investments in Oregon and the Portland area.
(Photo: Sobom M/Getty Images)
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