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USL Spokane announces investment group featuring collection of athletes

By Staff, 10/24/23, 1:15PM EDT


New England Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers, former NFL linebacker Dhani Jones, Gonzaga athletes Annie Hawkins and Treana Allen and entrepreneur John Ceresani join club

SPOKANE, Wash. – Aequus Sports, LLC, the ownership entity bringing professional women's (USL Super League) and men's (Spokane Velocity FC - USL League One) soccer to the new ONE Spokane Stadium next year, is excited to welcome an investment group featuring athletes with a legacy of success on and off their respective fields.

The investment group organized by Los Angeles-based LandSpire includes current New England Patriots and Super Bowl champion defensive end Trey Flowers, retired NFL linebacker Dhani Jones, Gonzaga University standouts Annie Hawkins (soccer) and Treana Allen (basketball), as well as entrepreneur John Ceresani, who played football at both Notre Dame and Northwestern.

"Building a strong, diversified ownership group is critical to ensure the long-term success of our club. This is a world-class group of accomplished businesspeople and athletes who share our vision for professional soccer to positively impact the Spokane community," said Ryan Harnetiaux, Managing Partner for Aequus Sports, LLC. "Collectively and individually, this group aligns with our belief that sports drive equity, economic development, and opportunity – particularly for women. This is exactly the kind of investor we seek as we stand up USL Spokane and create a powerful community asset."

LandSpire, cofounded by former NBA player Josh Childress, and Justin Davis, who played professional basketball in Europe, aims to invest in communities that have been traditionally underrepresented. While not its primary focus, the company looks for strategic investments in sports properties, seeing sports as an economic driver for communities and urban areas.

Treana Allen, who played basketball at Gonzaga from 2001-03 and earned All-West Coast Conference honors her senior year, now serves as LandSpire’s General Counsel. She said she knows from personal experience that when it comes to sports, Spokane turns out, whether for collegiate teams like the Gonzaga Bulldogs or sport-related community events including the annual Bloomsday 12K run and Hoopfest, the world's largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament.

"Women's sports aren't a trend for me. It has been, for most of my life, an under-invested asset class," Allen said. "I’ve been involved with professional sports in some capacity for the better part of two decades. It was just a matter of finding the right investment, at the right time, with the right group. 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."

Annie Hawkins, who set several records during her four years as a starter for the Gonzaga soccer team, played professionally in Sweden and in her hometown of Salt Lake City, serving as captain for Real Salt Lake Women for seven years. She is thrilled to be giving back to Spokane.

"This investment is important to me because I believe in building things that last and building things that matter," said Hawkins, who co-owns a design and renovation business in Salt Lake City. "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."

Trey Flowers, who played college football at the University of Arkansas, was a fourth-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2015. In his second season, he won the first of his back-to-back Super Bowl rings. After stints in Detroit and Miami, he returned to the Patriots this summer.

Flowers said he was inspired by his daughters and sisters to join this investment group.

"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. As a professional athlete, I've experienced firsthand the transformative impact of sports on one's life. My love for the game, combined with the inspiration drawn from my three daughters and my sisters, who excelled in soccer, fuels my determination," Flowers said. "I see beyond the field – I see the potential to create opportunities, inspire young athletes, and contribute to the growth of women's sports in our nation. This investment isn’t just about owning a professional women’s soccer team; it’s about fostering a legacy of empowerment, resilience, and achievement for generations to come."

Dhani Jones retired from the NFL in 2011 after 11 seasons playing for the Giants, Eagles, Saints and Bengals. Since then, he has starred in the Travel Channel series "Dhani Tackles the Globe," in which he learned to play sports popular in other countries, and CNBC's "Adventure Capitalists," a "Shark Tank" style program for the outdoors and adventure sector. In 2010, Jones launched his philanthropic endeavor, BowTie Cause, designing signature bow ties for organizations around the country. He also built an advertising agency, a recruiting company and data/analytic business, and invested in other ventures through Qey Capital.

"I'm excited to join this prestigious organization and add value to all who are involved," Jones said of his USL Spokane investment. "Sports is an integral part of our society and I look forward to cheering on our teams!"

John Cerasani sold an insurance company he created at his kitchen table for enough to allow him to retire at 42. He didn't retire for long. A few months later, he founded Glencrest Global, a venture capital firm that has invested in more than 30 projects. Earlier this year, he released his second book, "2000 Percent Raise," a guide to help employees go into business for themselves.

"Professional women's sports are growing in popularity in the United States and will continue to do so. Couple this with the milestones that U.S. professional soccer has achieved over the last decade and we have a recipe for success," Cerasani said. "I am honored to be a minority owner in this organization with truly remarkable business partners.

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