Breaking down the Metropolitan Riveters’ new ownership structure

How one ownership group can own 3 teams

The Metropolitan Riveters have officially been sold to BTM Partners and chairman John Boynton. They are the third franchise in the NWHL to fall under the BTM umbrella, joining the Toronto Six and Boston Pride.

So, how does that work?

“A number of people have asked the question, ‘what does it mean to have one group accumulating ownership of more than one team?’” Boynton addressed in a media availability Wednesday afternoon. “As we all know, that’s not standard practice in most leagues.”

Boynton explained that the league’s constitution allows for an ownership group to maintain control of multiple franchises during a “transitional period” for the league as it grows from a “single entity” league like the Premier Lacrosse League to a collection of independently owned organizations- a “joint entity” league.

BTM first entered the NWHL picture in 2019, when W Hockey Partners sold the Boston Pride to Miles Arnone, managing partner of Cannon Capital. Shortly thereafter, they purchased the expansion Toronto Six with John’s wife Johanna Boynton — a former hockey captain at Harvard — serving as chair.

Three teams also means three independent seats on the NWHL Board of Governors, a position the Riveters have not yet announced. Boynton specified that Metropolitan is currently in the application and interview process of filling that position.

“Someday we’ll have just one team,” Boynton noted. “Our first divestment would have to happen within five years. I would expect it to happen earlier than that. I certainly hope it does. Local ownership is the key to sustainability.”

It should be noted that while BTM Partners is now on the clock to divest two of their three teams, there is no restriction as to which team they must keep. BTM essentially has their pick of Boston, Toronto or Metropolitan as the team the group retains for the long term.

Riveters general manager Anya Packer expressed excitement at the prospect of her franchise growing and operating “in a vacuum,” not reliant on other entities to make business decisions.

“BTM has decided that we are single entities,” Packer explained. “The Riveters can sign a different contracting move than any of their other entities…it’s why we have separate chairpeople. They’ve done a great job giving us the autonomy to operate as Riveters, and watching the Riveters’ brand grow and scale by themselves.”

Prior to their sale, the Riveters were one of four teams managed by W Hockey Partners, along with the Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale and Minnesota Whitecaps. The Whale have since been sold to Tobin Kelly and Shared Hockey Enterprises.

Packer elaborated on the Riveters’ seemingly newfound “autonomy,” indicating that the team would be free to develop their own marketing and forge relationships with distributors and vendors without having to match the business plans of other organizations.

While the ownership setup may seem peculiar, BTM has shown a commitment to providing a quality product on and off the ice. The act of expanding a team into a hockey-rich market like Toronto is a significant investment, and the Boston Pride are the reigning Isobel Cup Champions.

The sentiment emanating from Boynton and Packer certainly seems to be that the organization can now dream a little bigger.

“This gives me so much pride, so much support, and so much infrastructure to do better,” Packer said. “I’m excited for some of the moves that we’ve been making in our offseason.”