Magazine article Black Enterprise

Lincoln Holdings Purchase Mystics: Deal Makes BET Co-Founder Sheila Johnson Part Owner of Three Professional Sports Franchises

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Lincoln Holdings Purchase Mystics: Deal Makes BET Co-Founder Sheila Johnson Part Owner of Three Professional Sports Franchises

Article excerpt

Black Entertainment Television co-founder Sheila Johnson has become the first African American woman to own a stake in three professional sports teams through a partnership with Lincoln Holdings L.L.C., an organization that owns the WNBA's Washington Mystics, the NHL's Washington Capitals, and part of the NBA's Washington Wizards.

Lincoln Holdings announced in May that it would buy the Mystics from Washington Sports & Entertainment. The organization already owns the Capitals and 45% of the Wizards. Johnson's stake in Lincoln Holdings is reportedly between 5% and 10%. "Sheila is an owner of three professional sports teams, so it is a historic day in professional sports," says Lincoln Holdings Chairman Ted Leonsis.

According to NBA Commissioner David Stern, the price tag for the Mystics was $10 million.

Johnson wants her ownership deal to open the door for other black women to attain decision making positions in sports. "I hope that this is a signal that it's about time that a woman, and an African American woman, is part of this whole scene of sports," she says.

In addition to her ownership stake, Johnson will take on the titles of president, managing partner, and governor of the Mystics. As governor, she will represent the team at WNBA owners' meetings.

Abe Pollin, chairman of Washington Sports & Entertainment, says he handpicked Johnson to be a part of the team's new ownership. "We think it's past time for an African American woman to own a WNBA team, and we sought her out," Pollin says. The partnership with Lincoln Holdings evolved after Pollin approached Johnson to determine her interest in buying into the Mystics.

A high-profile African American woman becoming the public face of a WNBA team is a plus for the league and for the sports industry in general, says Tony McClean, a columnist for Black Athlete Sports Network. …

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