3-Time WNBA Champions Introduce Phoenix Mercury Changemakers, Collective of Deeply-Invested Companies Helping Champion Women’s Sports
The WNBA has never been more popular. That’s not an opinion or a hopeful narrative, it’s a fact borne out by television ratings, social media engagements, retail sales – name the metric and you’ll find your proof.
Led by its players, it’s now a league that eschews shyness and leans into a bold, diverse identity. More than ever, the WNBA features women and non-binary athletes of all shapes, sizes, colors, backgrounds and identities.
“We see every day our player’s appetite for transformational change – from how they play the game to calling out how the world around them falls short of true equality – and we knew this was the time to double-down on that same bold roadmap on the business side,” said Vince Kozar, Mercury Chief Operating Officer. “But we can’t do that alone, it only works in partnership with businesses who share our values and believe in women.”
The summer of 2021 marks the establishment of the Phoenix Mercury Changemakers, a group of companies invested at the highest levels, owners of the team’s most marquee assets, and at the forefront of the fight for diversity, equity and inclusion everywhere.
“When we sat down and looked at it, we thought what would be most transformational for us would be to create a core group of companies that are not only invested in our team but partnered with us in our shared goals around providing opportunities for women and girls, fighting for racial equality, and championing LGBTQ+ equality,” said Kozar.
The founding Phoenix Mercury Changemakers are Fry’s Food Stores, PayPal, Verizon, Bally’s Corporation and CarMax. They own some of the team’s most-coveted and most-visible marketing assets:
- Fry’s Food Stores, one of the team’s longest-tenured partners, is the Mercury’s marquee jersey partner, with their logo on the belly of all three game uniforms.
- PayPal is the Mercury’s first badge partner, with their logo on the left strap of all of the team’s game uniforms.
- Verizon is featured on the Mercury practice uniforms and the team trains in the Verizon 5G Performance Center, a brand-new $50 million training facility shared with the Phoenix Suns.
- Bally’s just this summer became the presenting partner of the Mercury and the first-ever market access deal with a women’s team after inking the largest team sponsorship in women’s sports.
- CarMax, a NBA and WNBA league partner who has sponsorship deal with multiple NBA teams, selected the Mercury as its first-ever WNBA team deal. The CarMax logo is featured prominently on the sideline apron in front of Mercury’s bench on the team’s home floor.
“When we signed Bally’s to the first market-access deal in women’s sports, we said we were thrilled to be the first through that wall but we don’t want to be the only,” Kozar said. “That’s the case with our Changemakers. This is an exclusive group and we couldn’t ask for five better companies to share in this, but the point of the platform is for more to join, companies that share our values. We know there are more out there and look forward to adding to this distinguished group.”
For the Phoenix Mercury Changemakers, there is no better time to invest and capitalize on a league that has continued to grow and flourish in recent years.
“There has never been a better opportunity for brands to align themselves with these athletes,” said Dan Costello, CRO and SVP, Business Innovation for the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury. “They stand for everything we want in our community and for me, when I look at my daughter, talk to my sisters or other friends and their daughters, it’s bigger than just a sponsorship deal. It’s so much more.”
The WNBA is an intersectional league, who players, staff and fans are comprised of women, people of color, and the LGBT community and its allies. And since its inception, the Mercury has continued to show up for these key stakeholders in the community.
“We need to continue to show up for those communities, to be a voice and leader for them, and we are going to do that thanks to the commitment of these partners and thanks to the commitment of our ownership and senior leadership of the organization,” said Kozar.
“When you talk to world-class brands, brands like Bally’s, Fry’s, PayPal, Verizon and CarMax, at the forefront of who they are as companies, is a vision and commitment to diversity, inclusion and opportunity for their own employees and communities,” agrees Costello.
“Specifically with our Phoenix Mercury Changemaker partners, this is an authentic partnership. These organizations are already leading and walking in their everyday life with this type of mission, and we just match, it couldn’t be more authentic.”
The results speak for themselves but there remains more work to do to ensure the WNBA, this year celebrating its 25th season, remains an inspirational vehicle for generations to come.
“We hope this becomes the norm across the league, because the momentum behind values and purpose-driven investments by partners in teams is real,” said Kozar.
Costello continues, “The time is now. It shouldn’t have taken this long, but the time is now.”