The National Women’s Hockey League announced on Wednesday that it would double the salary cap of each of the six teams to $ 300,000, based on the prediction that it is making progress to achieve financial stability into the seventh season.
“Investing in these players by doubling their salary cap is a very strong signal that we are taking this seriously,” Boston Pride Chairman Miles Arnone told The Associated Press. “. “This is what we can do. It’s substantive, but it’s still not the end. It marks the beginning of a process that is expected to continue in the coming years.”
At the same time, Arnone said the league has postponed the addition of an extended franchise in Montreal until the 2022-23 season, due to continued uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, especially in Canada. Arnone has invested in the BTM-owned group behind the Montreal expansion bid and operates Toronto Six, which has completed its first season.
Arnone said the decision to raise the cap and delay the expansion was irrelevant.
The decision to raise the cap means that the salary will average $ 15,000 based on a roster of 20 players. Arnone’s estimated salary ranges from $ 10,000 to $ 35,000, excluding additional bonuses associated with revenue sharing agreements with league players.
NWHL hasn’t made a profit yet, but first-year commissioner Tyler Tuminia has also generated major sponsorship deals, including a six-digit high-value deal with Discover, and shortened the two-week season. Regardless, he mentioned that he contributed to the expansion of the fan base. The outbreak of COVID-19 was confusing and forced the playoffs to be postponed for almost two months.
“It’s been a very challenging year for all sports and I think it’s a very exciting announcement. What we’re proud of as a league is, frankly, our goal is literally a reality. It’s about to become, “Tumminia told AP. “I am confident that participating in the project will improve the model and revenue flow.”
Apart from the challenge of establishing a new team within the COVID-19 restrictions still in effect in Canada, Arnone said he wants to focus on Six infrastructure and fan-based development. Six hasn’t played in Toronto yet after spending his first season in the United States alone due to the closure of the border.
“We will expand. And we have a very specific plan to do that, and I think you can very clearly expect there to be a Season 8 expansion.” Said Arnone. “In our view, it’s a bit better to spend more time building better infrastructure for the new team, staffing the right people, and doing it really well. . “
Arnone, Managing Partner of Canon Capital Investment Company, has played a key role in transforming NHL’s leadership since purchasing Pride two years ago. At the time, the league restructured its executive model by establishing a board of owners, investors and shareholders, and league founder Dani Lilan Kearney resigned as commissioner last fall.
Based in Connecticut, Minnesota, NJ and Buffalo, NY, the other four NWHL teams are run by W Hockey Partners, who are actively trying to sell their franchises to privately owned groups.
Founded in 2015 as a four-team league, NWHL was the first in North America to pay female players. When NWHL made a drastic decision to cut player salaries by almost half due to a shortage expected to fall below $ 270,000 per team salary cap, it endured growth pain and the second season. It was closed for almost a month.
The reduction has resulted in many prominent players leaving NWHL to play in Canada.
Tumminia and Arnone said NWHL’s position has improved as the league no longer runs the team and gains a better understanding of cash flow. NWHL still relies on gate revenue, but it secures long-term deals with corporate partners and raises awareness.
Increased salaries could attract additional players to NWHL after the majority of top US and Canadian players refuse to join the league. Instead, we will form the Association of Professional Women’s Hockey Players following the end of the 2019 Canadian Women’s Hockey League. The purpose of PWHPA is to establish a single North American Women’s Professional League with a livelihood and long-term sustainable economic model.
“I hope this makes a difference in the margins. You see, right?” Arnone mentioned the split between NWHL and PWHPA. “We want to see some settlements.”
PWHPA executive Jana Heford welcomed NWHL’s decision to raise the cap.
“It’s great to see the league take a positive step towards financial support for athletes,” Heford said in a text to AP. “That’s the right direction for this game and its players (current and future).”
NWHL has been played over 2 million times on its streaming platform Twitch this season, nearly tripled its audience. The Isobel Cup semi-finals and finals were broadcast for the first time nationwide, with an average of over 100,000 viewers on NBCSN.
“We have a much better handle (in terms of economics). We’ve been through six seasons, one of which, of course, to understand what a business looks like. It was historic at the level of turmoil, “Arnone said of this past season. “If you can get over it, doubling your salary cap is like walking in the park.”
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