Bhathal family joins with Portland Mayor, NWSL Commissioner, players, and local dignitaries to commemorate new era for the Thorns organization
PORTLAND, Ore. – A month after acquiring the Portland Thorns FC of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), new club owners RAJ Sports joined with top local leaders and community members at Providence Park to celebrate the beginning of the next era of the Thorns organization.
Representing RAJ Sports were new NWSL Governor Lisa Bhathal Merage and NWSL Alternate Governor Alex Bhathal, as well as their parents Marta Bhathal and Raj Bhathal.
“Our family is deeply humbled and honored to join the Thorns community,” said Bhathal Merage. “Portland’s deep and long-standing love for the Thorns means the world to us, and we could not be more excited to take on the responsibility of guiding an incredible organization to even newer heights in the years ahead.”
Additional speakers included Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, League Commissioner Jessica Berman and Portland Thorns General Manager and President of Thorns FC Operations Karina LeBlanc.
“We are thrilled to welcome Lisa and Alex to the League and to Portland specifically,” said Commissioner Berman. “Each are proven leaders in the world of professional sports and beyond, and they bring so much knowledge and passion to this iconic club. This is a world-class ownership group, and the Thorns, their fans, and the entire Portland community will no doubt benefit for years to come.”
The Bhathal family are also principal co-owners of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, which was recently named NBA Team of the Year, in large part due to the team’s positive impact on the local Sacramento community. The Kings parent organization also own the Sacramento RiverCats AAA baseball club, Stockton Kings NBA-G League club, and Kings Guard NBA 2K esports team.
In addition to their growing sports portfolio, Merage and Bhathal are co-founders and managing partners of Revitate, a Newport Beach, California-based investment firm specializing in sports, real estate, and consumer brand investments.
“The City of Portland is excited to welcome the Bhathal Family to our community in their role leading RAJ Sports as new owners of the Portland Thorns FC,” said Mayor Wheeler. “As all Portlanders appreciate, the Thorns are a beloved institution at the heart of our community – they represent our city’s values, our love of team sports, our role models, our reputation as “Soccer City USA,” and our incredible athletic and outdoor companies. Having met with representatives of the ownership group and learned more about their deep and impactful community involvement in other markets, I am eager to see all of the positive contributions that they will be making in our community as the Thorns continue their success and growth.”
“One thing I know to be true after all my years here in Portland, first as a player, and now as an executive, is just how important the Thorns are to this city,” said LeBlanc. “Portland is a special place, with a passionate fan base and close-knit community. Knowing what I know about the Bhathal family – how they appreciate all the little things that make this club special, and how they’ll be able to leverage their background in and passion for sports to better our club and the trajectory of women’s sports more broadly, I am truly excited to build on the foundation and history of this club and be part of the opportunity that lays ahead.”
Alex Bhathal, who serves as NWSL Alternate Governor, stressed the organization’s mission to make the community proud of their Thorns for generations to come while growing the popularity of the NWSL and women’s sports overall.
Ms. Bhathal Merage also mentioned the event was the beginning of a year-long “listening tour” that Thorns leadership will embark on to gather insights and perspectives from the Thorns organization and Portland community.
The Thorns are slated to begin the season on March 16 against Kansas City Current at CPKC Stadium before returning to Providence Park on March 24 for the home opener against NJ/NY Gotham FC, tickets for which are on sale now.