In the midst of a boycott by many of the sport’s best players, the National Women’s Hockey League is forging ahead and today announced some significant news. The league has sold the Boston Pride franchise to a team of investors led by Cannon Capital managing partner Miles Arnone. The Pride will become the only independently operated franchise in the NWHL after the Buffalo Sabres ownership group relinquished control of the Buffalo Beauts back to the league earlier this year. Arnone released a statement explaining why he purchased the team:
My investors and I believe in the NWHL, and we are honored to take on the responsibility of leading the Boston Pride during this important era of growth for women’s sports. We will build the Pride into a world-class team and an innovative and thoughtful business venture that demonstrates the power of professional women’s hockey and the value of the game’s remarkable athletes.
The NWHL has faced public scrutiny after a group of nearly 200 players, including top women’s hockey names like Kendall Coyne Schofield, Marie-Philip Poulin and Hilary Knight announced they would not take part in the upcoming 2019-20 season. That group subsequently founded the PWHPA and have organized the “Dream Gap Tour,” showcasing their talent in several cities across North America. Even in spite of the boycott, the NWHL has taken strong steps forward financially, increasing the league’s salary cap to $150,000 per team and introducing a 50-50 revenue split similar (though not exactly like) the one the NHL uses. They also announced that many of their games would be streamed live on Twitch, signing a three-year deal with the platform earlier this month.
Having an investor take control of a franchise like the Pride could lead to incredible opportunities for growth of the league, including increased resources for the players and fan engagement. League commissioner Dani Rylan released a statement explaining how important this step is for the NWHL:
The NWHL congratulates Miles Arnone on his acquisition of the Boston Pride, and we thank Miles and his investors for their belief in our league and players. Miles has a love for the game and deep connections in the New England community. The Pride’s new ownership is passionately committed to the team for the long haul, and we are confident they will set a new standard for how professional women’s hockey teams are run in North America. Their dedication to investing in the Pride’s infrastructure, player development, and every aspect of the sport and business is a game-changer.
The 2019-20 NWHL season will begin on October 5th and will include 24 regular season games for each team.