The Buffalo Beauts, one of the original teams in the National Women’s Hockey League, has been sold to NLTT Ventures, the league announced Monday.
A league spokesman confirmed the team will remain in Buffalo.
The Minnesota Whitecaps also were sold to NLTT Ventures, an organization that combines NL Sports and Top Tier Sports, though under league rules, NLTT will be required to sell one of the teams within five years because no group can own more than one team.
The league is transitioning away from its original model in which all the teams were owned by the league. Last year, W Hockey Partners (WHP) had taken control of the four franchises that remainded under league ownership and planned to sell them to independent owners. With this sale, those four teams have been sold.
Andy Scurto, from NL Sports, was most recently WHP’s president, replacing the league’s original commissioner Dani Rylan in March. The founder and former president of insurance software company ISCS in San Jose, Scurto made an investment in the league in November 2019 and was named to the board of governors. Scurto sold ISCS in 2017 for $160 million.
"We're very excited as an organization to now have this solid ownership backing," Beauts General Manager Nate Oliver told the News. "Andy Scurto is a pleasure to work with, and he has been tremendous in his support and backing of the Beauts. It is always exceedingly helpful when you know that you have firm ownership who believes in you, believes in our team and wants only the best for our players. Our Beauts players deserve that. The players are all fully invested in Buffalo and in being part of the Western New York community. They want to win for us and bring a championship home to our city.
"Andy and NLTT now make that a two-way street where our team is just as invested as our ownership, and vice versa. This enables everyone involved with the Beauts to perform at their very best. It is amazing what can happen when we all share the same commitment and belief in one another."
Liebman, also a previous investor in the NWHL, is the president of business operations and chief operating officer for the Texas Rangers and was part of the ownership group that bought the team in 2010. He will represent the Whitecaps on the board of governors.
“On behalf of NLTT Ventures, I want to thank all WHP investors for their support and contributions to the initial development and growth phase of professional women’s hockey,” Scurto said in a news release. “Looking ahead, I’m very proud that Neil and I can help advance the NWHL business model and provide Beauts and Whitecaps players with the resources and environment they need to achieve their dreams and be role models for future generations of hockey players.”
The Beauts reverted to the league in May 2019 after Pegula Sports and Entertainment had taken control for a season and a half. At the time, the Beauts were the only team to be independently operated.
The league announced the sales of two other WHP franchises in May: the Metropolitan Riveters to John Boynton and BTM Partners and the Connecticut Whale to Tobin Kelly and Shared Hockey Enterprises.
“Since the adoption of the league’s new governance model in October, it has been our goal to attract new owners who are well capitalized and fully committed to club operations and our vision for this league’s future,” NWHL Commissioner Tyler Tumminia said in a news release. “With these two sales, all six teams are now in independent hands and that provides a strong foundation on which to expand opportunities for professional women’s hockey players in North America.”
The Beauts are hoping for quality and quantity in Tuesday night’s NWHL draft.
The team already made two trades involving picks, including sending No. 1 overall to the Connecticut Whale in exchange for No. 2 overall and a third-round selection. The Beauts also acquired a third-round pick from the Boston Pride, meaning Buffalo will select the first three picks in Round 3.
The Beauts have seven total draft picks and will also select first in the second, fourth and fifth rounds.
A total of 30 players will be selected by the league’s six teams.
The draft begins at 7 p.m. and can be seen on twitch.tv/NWHL.