Merritt Paulson announces decision to sell Portland Thorns

Although he will maintain his ownership of the Portland Timbers

The exterior of a circular soccer stadium with an "onward Rose City" sign under a cloudy sky.

Peregrine Sports LLC operates Providence Park in Southwest Portland.

The Portland Thorns are up for sale.

Merritt Paulson, the owner of the Thorns and Timbers, made the announcement barely a month after the NWSL team clinched a record third championship title. He is reportedly seeking upwards of $60 million.

Paulson, who has owned the Thorns since the NWSL was formed in 2013, told The Oregonian/Oregon Live the decision to sell has been a difficult one he’s weighed for weeks, ultimately concluding that the team needs “a powerful owner at the league level” who will seal their place as leaders in women’s sports.

A $1 million donation to the NWSL will be included in the Thorns’ sale to support the launch of the league’s Player Safety Department. But he also plans to patiently wait for the right buyer to come along.

“We are committed to continue to work collaboratively with the NWSL to ensure we find the right group to take the reins,” Paulson said in a statement. “We will not rush to a decision as we want to get it right for our players, for Portland and for women’s soccer.”

NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman expressed her support for the decision to sell the Thorns, adding that the team, its fans, and the community of Portland “have played a key role in our league’s first decade and are critically important to the future success of the NWSL.”

The Thorns’ sale will not impact Paulson’s ownership of his MLS franchise, the Portland Timbers, though the transaction will separate the Thorns from the shared PTFC club. He said the club’s operating entity, Peregrine Sports LLC, will work with the Thorns’ new ownership — which he hopes will be woman-led — to keep the club in Portland on Providence Park turf.

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