DP Fox Sports & Entertainment on Monday announced the launch of West Michigan’s newest sports franchise, a women’s professional volleyball team that will play at Van Andel Arena as a member of the newly formed Pro Volleyball Federation beginning in February 2024.
The historic announcement was made by Dan DeVos, chairman and CEO of DP Fox, in a morning press conference at Van Andel Arena attended by a number of Pro Volleyball Federation executives as well as local government officials, business leaders, and volleyball coaches and athletes.
“We’re excited that our West Michigan Pro Volleyball franchise is the first to be announced in the Pro Volleyball Federation, and we are very proud to bring women’s professional sports to Grand Rapids and Van Andel Arena,” said DeVos, who is also co-owner and CEO of the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins. “Volleyball’s popularity is exploding. The Midwest is a hotbed for the sport, the Big Ten is the most dominant conference in the NCAA, and there are a number of strong club, high school and college programs across our region.
“We have a history with and great respect for the people behind the Pro Volleyball Federation, some of whom we’ve known for more than two decades dating back to the Arena Football League,” added DeVos. “This is a true women’s major-league sport and team coming to Grand Rapids. We strongly believe in the league’s vision to provide the highest level of women’s professional sports in our country, and we are excited to be in on the ground floor.”
Pro Volleyball Federation is the premier women’s professional volleyball league in North America with world-class players and coaches, including some of America’s greatest volleyball players. Pro Volleyball Federation is played at a major-league level in pro arenas with elite athletes who, for the first time, have an opportunity to make a real living wage and play at the highest level without leaving the country.
In a video message played during the press conference, Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss remarked that “this is such an exciting announcement for our community. I can tell you as the first female mayor of our city I am especially excited to hear that we will have a women’s pro team playing downtown. I know I’ll be excited to see them and attend the games, but I know that it will also have a huge impact on girls all throughout our city and region. They will be mentors and individuals that girls right here in our city can look up to.”
West Michigan Pro Volleyball will be holding a “Name the Team” contest, with details to be announced in the coming months. Fans are encouraged to visit wmprovolleyball.com to sign up for the team’s email list and to receive information about tickets and sponsorships, and to visit provolleyballfederation.com to learn more about the league.
Pro Volleyball Federation has attracted some well-known founding partners from inside and outside the sport. Super Bowl champion Trent Dilfer highlights an impressive roster of founding partners in support of the venture. In addition, two legends of the sport – Dr. Cecile Reynaud and Laurie Corbelli – will be intimately involved from the start, as will Team USA veteran Jenna Rosenthal.
Founders of the league are Dave Whinham, president & CEO of The TEAM Management, LLC, and Stephen Evans, president of The Remedy. The duo boasts many years of combined experience in building and managing professional sports leagues and teams and providing comprehensive consultation and thought leadership to the industry.
Pro Volleyball Federation is a women's professional league that will be run primarily by women. Jen Spicher, a respected business executive who has built sales teams responsible for billions of dollars of revenue generation, has been tapped as chief executive officer. Reynaud, a member of the USA Volleyball Hall of Fame who spent 26 seasons as head coach at Florida State, will serve as vice president of volleyball operations. Corbelli, also a Hall of Fame coach who amassed more than 600 career victories, will assist Reynaud in developing the league's volleyball operations.
"This is something that we have been building for more than 18 months and we are finally at this exciting point where we can tell the world about this fantastic new opportunity for these awesome athletes," Spicher said. "I was a college volleyball player and know first-hand the excitement these young ladies are feeling to finally have a meaningful opportunity to be a professional volleyball player without having to go overseas."
Eight to 10 initial teams will debut in volleyball hotbeds throughout the nation in 2024, with additional markets added in subsequent years. The regular season will consist of 16 matches during the inaugural campaign. Rosters will include 14 players and the league expects to have a minimum of three National Game of the Week windows on major broadcast networks and a worldwide streaming partner.
First-year base salaries in Pro Volleyball Federation will be similar to those of current first-year WNBA players. Pro Volleyball Federation players will be able to earn additional compensation based on achievement and postseason advancement, while also sharing revenues with the league.
"This is an incredibly exciting day for the Pro Volleyball Federation," said Whinham. "As a Grand Valley State alum and someone who has had a long relationship with the DeVos family, I simply couldn’t be happier. We brought this opportunity to Dan DeVos and his team first because we love working with them and know they can be counted on to do a sensational job. To have this world class organization as the first team to be announced in our new league is sensational and provides a glimpse into the great announcements to come."
"Volleyball is one of the most popular sports around the world and many countries offer a variety of leagues for athletes to participate in," Reynaud said. "The United States is one of the few that has not had a true professional league providing athletes opportunities to continue to play at a high level after college. Pro Volleyball Federation is ready to establish a league with teams around the country that will support these top athletes and coaches."