The ownership team of Spokane’s women’s and men’s United Soccer League teams announced Tuesday a new investment team that includes several former athletes, including former Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Aequus Sports LLC, which owns the USL Soccer teams that will play at the newly built One Spokane Stadium, announced the investment group, which was organized by Los Angeles-based LandSpire.
It includes current New England Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers, who won two Super Bowls with the team, and retired NFL linebacker Dhani Jones, who played for four NFL teams.
The investment group also includes former Gonzaga athletes Annie Hawkins, who played four years for the Bulldogs’ soccer team before a lengthy professional career; Triana Allen, who played basketball at Gonzaga from 2001-03; and entrepreneur John Ceresani, who played football at Notre Dame and Northwestern.
“Building a strong, diversified ownership group is critical to ensure the long-term success of our club,” Ryan Harnetiaux, who owns the team with his wife, Katie, said in a news release. “This is a world-class group of accomplished businesspeople and athletes who share our vision for professional soccer to positively impact the Spokane community.”
Allen, the former Zag, now works as general counsel for LandSpire, which was co-founded by former NBA player Josh Childress, and Justin Davis, who played professional basketball in Europe.
“Women’s sports aren’t a trend for me. It has been, for most of my life, an under-invested asset class,” Allen said in the release. “I’ve been involved with professional sports in some capacity for the better part of two decades.
“Spokane is a sports town, and having grown a sports asset here during my time at Gonzaga, I understand the community and culture very well, which provided us with strong conviction that the USL would do very well here.”
After her playing career ended for Gonzaga in 2004, Hawkins played professional soccer in Sweden before returning to her hometown of Salt Lake City, where she played for the city’s MLS team, Real Salt Lake Women, for seven years. She co-owns a design and renovation business there.
“This investment is important to me because I believe in building things that last and building things that matter,” Hawkins said in the release. “Investing in women’s sports in a city and community that mean so much to me, is something I’m incredibly honored and excited to be a part of.”
Flowers said he was inspired by his daughters and his sisters to join the investment team.
“Investing in women’s soccer in the U.S. isn’t just a financial decision for me; it’s a heartfelt conviction deeply rooted in my passion for sports and a profound belief in the power of empowering women,” Flowers said in the release.
USL Spokane’s professional men’s team, Spokane Velocity FC, will begin playing games in April as a Division III USL League One team.
The women’s professional USL Super League team will begin play in August . The team name will be revealed on Nov. 5 at the Davenport Grand Hotel in Spokane.