WNBA investigating Aces’ sponsorship deal with Las Vegas tourism authority

The WNBA is investigating whether to allow the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s $100,000 annual sponsorship to each Aces player for this season and next.

A league spokesperson confirmed Saturday that an investigation into the deal is ongoing. The sponsorship does not violate the WNBA salary cap, because the Las Vegas authority has not arranged this with the club. But other teams have likely raised questions about the fairness of the sponsorship and whether it violates the spirit of the cap rules.

‘I’ll explain it to you very simply. Most sponsorship people go after the top two people,” Aces coach Becky Hammon said. “From what I understand, they wanted the whole team. They called individual officers. I don’t know the details. I have nothing to do with it. The Aces have nothing to do with it. That’s what happened.”

This is not the first time that Aces has come into contact with the competition in recent years. Last year, the WNBA suspended Hammon for two games and stripped the Aces of their 2025 first-round draft pick because the franchise violated league rules regarding impermissible player benefits and workplace policies.

“Just another day in the life of the Aces. We can’t just start normally,” said star A’ja Wilson. “There will always be something and that’s okay. When we talk about growing the game or taking the next step, this can’t always be explored. It should be like we’re trying to make things better for franchises, for players for teams.”

The head of the authority believes they have done nothing wrong.

“We did this the right way,” authority President and CEO Steve Hill told The Associated Press on Saturday. “We did something that we think works for Las Vegas and I think it’s great for the players. We did this without the team. It was our idea and if they ask questions, they will find out.”

The authority posted a video on X or Hill told the players in the locker room the news on Friday.

“We have 100 influencers that we pay to represent Las Vegas,” Hill told the AP. “This is no different than that. All these ladies are fully eligible for sponsorship. We just ask them to represent Vegas.”

The players were delighted with the move.

“I’ve always said to the city of Vegas, it’s a big little city and they just want the best for the people here,” point guard Chelsea Gray said before the Aces’ home game Saturday against the Los Angeles Sparks. “They invest in us and so they put their money where their mouth is. We have done so much for the city and are having a lot of fun doing it.

“It was a great moment for me and my teammates, where someone actually left money and said they support us and they want our support.”

According to the website Spotrac, which tracks player salaries, the sponsorship is higher than the earnings of six Aces players.

“Definitely more than my salary,” says newcomer Kate Martin, who earns $67,249, according to the website. “I am super grateful. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming, but this is real life and that’s what all these players deserve. I wouldn’t be getting this crazy bonus if all these players hadn’t played so great over the years.”

The $100,000 is also a big addition to what the top players earn. A’ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum are the highest paid Aces at $200,000 each and Gray is close behind at $196,267.

“(That) the LVCVA sees our value and helps close that wage gap says a lot about the character of the people who are there,” said Alysha Clark, whose salary is listed at $110,000. “So I’m extremely grateful. I’m honored to be able to represent this organization and this city and advocate for the city and give back to this city and contribute to the community, and that’s what they’ve done for us. It was really very special.”