Kevin Durant, 35 Ventures expand women's sports portfolio with Gotham FC ownership stake

·3 min read

NJ/NY Gotham FC added another marquee name to its ownership group.

The club announced Thirty Five Ventures (35V), led by founders Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets and Rich Kleiman, are now minority investors. They join two-time World Cup winner and former Gotham FC star Carli Lloyd, whose ownership stake was announced last week. Kristen Bernert and Karen Bryant of consulting firm KB2 Sport joined last month.

“As a New York-based company, the opportunity for us to partner with a forward-thinking team like Gotham FC was a no-brainer,” Kleiman in a team release. “There’s been so much growth in the NWSL in recent years, and the chance to be a part of that growth and work directly with the Gotham FC executive team and players is really exciting.”

The investment includes “additional partnership elements such as content creation, social media support, player relations and community outreach," per the team release. Durant, a two-time NBA champion playing for the nearby Brooklyn Nets, and Kleiman created The Boardroom media network to cover sports business news, hot topics and "key industry players."

The partnership is an expansion of two ventures the duo have already made in recent years. 35V has an ownership stake in the Philadelphia Union of MLS they completed in June 2020. It also invested in Just Women's Sports a year ago as part of its May 2021 seed funding announcement. And Durant has been on the advisory board of Athletes Unlimited since it launched in 2020.

Durant's investment a 'huge statement'

Rich Kleiman and Kevin Durant
Rich Kleiman and Kevin Durant are involved in Gotham FC, Philadelphia Union, Just Women's Sports and Athletes Unlimited. (Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

It's another big move for Gotham FC and the NWSL as an entirety as celebrities and sports superstars continue to invest in the league's clubs. They bring their money, time and resources to grow the game. Angel City FC has a lengthy list of former USWNTers, actresses, athletes and celebrities and opened its inaugural season to 22,000 fans in Los Angeles last week.

“This is another big step forward for our franchise,” Ed Nalbandian, Gotham FC’s managing owner, said in a team release. “Kevin and Rich are two of the most influential people in sports, and their work in the business and entertainment world and their significant investment in Gotham FC illustrates the potential of our club. They will be tremendous resources to the club across multiple areas, and we’re excited to welcome them to the Gotham FC family.”

Club chair Tammy Murphy called it a "huge statement about the positive trajectory of our club." Gotham FC underwent a re-branding and name change in 2020 and now calls Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., it's home pitch. The club has been around since 2006 when it was Jersey Sky Blue and a founding member of now-defunct Women's Professional Soccer.

Gotham FC won its 2022 season opener, 3-0, against the Orlando Pride on Sunday. They return to the pitch to play the expansion club San Diego Wave on Saturday (10 p.m. ET on Twitch). The roster features USWNTers Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger, Kristie Mewis, Allie Long and Margaret Purce.

The first home match of the season is May 14.

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