The Portland Thorns sale has officially gone through, with the Bhathal family acquiring the NWSL team from Merritt Paulson for a record $63 million, according to multiple outlets.
The Thorns announced the sale to RAJ Sports, led by siblings Lisa Bhathal Merage and Alex Bhathal, who also own the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
According to The Athletic, Lisa Bhathal Merage will serve as the team’s controlling owner and represent the Thorns on the NWSL board of governors. Alex Bhathal, her brother and business partner, will serve as alternate governor.
The group has committed to keeping the team in Portland, and will remain at Providence Park through 2035 as per their lease agreement.
“As fans ourselves, and as seasoned sports and real estate operators, we believe in the future of Portland and the NWSL, and in the tremendous opportunity that surrounds this iconic team,” Bhathal Merage said Wednesday. “We look forward to working with the Timbers throughout this transition and beyond to ensure the continued success of the Thorns at Providence Park.”
Additionally, the team will continue training at the Portland stadium as they await a new women’s practice facility, which the family has committed to building. According to The Athletic, their goal is to have “at least two” training fields, a training and performance center and office space.
Merritt Paulson put the Thorns up for sale in late 2022 amid allegations of abuse and misconduct both within the Thorns and the NWSL. A $1 million fine issued by the league to the Thorns in January 2023 has been paid as part of the purchase transaction.
Earlier this year, the Chicago Red Stars sold to a group led by Laura Ricketts for $35.5 million, while Michele Kang previously paid $35 million for the Washington Spirit, to help put the Thorns’ price in perspective.