Phoenix Suns co-owner among new Portland Thorns investors

The NWSL‘s Portland Thorns announced additions to its ownership group on Thursday, with Phoenix Suns co-owner Sam Garvin among the five new investors coming on board.

The other additions include Columbia Sportswear CEO and Portland native Tim Boyle, Nehal Raj, the co-managing partner of global asset managers TPG, Revitate partner and CEO Kunal Merchant and Josh Childress, the CEO of Landspire Group and a former NBA player.

Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, NWSL more (U.S.)

“We are thrilled to welcome such an incredible group into the Portland Thorns,” said Thorns controlling owner Lisa Bhathal Merage. “Each will bring new insight and expertise into the Thorns as we embark on an exciting new chapter for the club and league.”

Revitate, an investment vehicle led by the Bhathal Family, helped put together the new additions to the team’s investment group. The Bhathal Family also holds ownership stakes in the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, the Stockton Kings of the NBA-G League and the Sacramento RiverCats Triple-A baseball team, among other sports ventures.

“Investor interest in the Thorns is off the charts,” said Merchant, who advised the Bhathals’ acquisition of the Thorns and helped assemble of the Revitate investor group. “We are gratified and inspired to see so much belief in the future of the Thorns and in women’s sports more broadly.”

Lisa Bhathal Merage and her brother, Alex Bhathal, acquired the Thorns earlier this year for a then-NWSL record $63m from previous owner Peregrine Sports, which is headed by Merritt Paulson. The transaction came in the wake of the Thorns’ involvement in a widespread abuse scandal that included multiple NWSL teams.

Former Thorns manager Paul Riley is alleged to have engaged in sexual coercion of multiple Thorns players. He was eventually fired for cause, but Thorns executives kept the manner of his departure quiet and helped clear the way for him to get another job in the NWSL managing the Western New York Flash, which eventually became the North Carolina Courage.

Multiple investigations determined that Thorns executives mishandled the allegations, and subsequent pressure from fans and sponsors forced the team’s sale.

Lisa Bhathal Merage now serves as governor of the Thorns with her brother Alex as alternate governor.

The Revitate investors will join the Bhathals and Anup Popat, the CEO of Systems Technology Group, offering experience in business, sports, real estate and philanthropy.

“I’m incredibly proud to join with Lisa, Alex, and my other partners in helping the club further its considerable positive impact in our community both on and off the pitch,” said Boyle, a Portland native and lifelong resident.

“The opportunity to invest in the best women’s soccer club in the world doesn’t come around very often,” said Childress, who played eight years in the NBA and co-owns the Southeast Melbourne Phoenix of the Australian NBL. “I’m honored to join the Thorns organization and leverage my professional sports experience to help foster new opportunities for the next generation of athletes.”

Among the priorities of the newly constituted investment group will be the development of a new state-of-the-art training facility.