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WNBA says sale of Atlanta Dream, team co-owned by Kelly Loeffler, is "close to being finalized"

The Atlanta Dream, the WNBA team co-owned by outgoing Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler, is on the verge of being sold, the league confirmed to CBS News on Tuesday. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported on the potential sale. 

"As it relates to the Atlanta Dream, we understand a sale of the franchise is close to being finalized," a WNBA spokesperson told CBS News. "Once the sale negotiation is concluded, additional information will be provided." 

News of a prospective deal comes on the same day Loeffler, a Republican, is finishing out her term as senator. 

The WNBA and the Dream made headlines with their league-wide support of Black Lives Matter during the summer with BLM warm-up outfits and jerseys. But Loeffler objected to the practice in June and asked WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert to put an end to it. 

In a statement deriding the protest in August, Loeffler called the players' shirts a sign of cancel culture. "This is just more proof that the out of control cancel culture wants to shut out anyone who disagrees with them," she said. "It's clear that the league is more concerned with playing politics than basketball, and I stand by what I wrote in June."

In response, the Atlanta Dream and other members of the WNBA endorsed one of her Senate opponents, Democrat Raphael Warnock, going so far as to wear "Vote Warnock" shirts at their games. Only two days after players wore the shirts, the campaign had raised more than $185,000 online, added 3,500 grassroots donors and grew Warnock's Twitter account by nearly 3,500 followers, a campaign official told CBS News. 

Kelly Loeffler
Senator Kelly Loeffler on January 5, 2021.  Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty

Loeffler was defeated by Warnock in a January 5 runoff election that saw both incumbent Republican senators from Georgia lose out to Democratic challengers, shifting the balance of power in the Senate.

While the players' protest also called for Loeffler's removal, neither she nor co-owner Mary Brock had said the Dream was for sale publicly before the WNBA's statement. The potential buyer is not known at this time, but Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James threw his hat in the ring on January 6, suggesting on Twitter that he wants to "put together an ownership group" to purchase the team.

CBS News reached out to the Dream for comment but did not immediately hear back. 

Zoe Christen Jones contributed reporting.

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