SBD/19/Leagues Governing Bodies

ABL'S FINAL NUMBERS SHOW 23% INCREASE IN ATTENDANCE

          The ABL's motto this season was "Real Basketball," and
     its championship final on Sunday "showed that the ABL could
     live up to its own hype," according to Mel Greenberg of the
     PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.  But "despite the ABL's superior
     play, it is still an open question whether the league will
     be able to withstand the marketing punch and deep pockets"
     of the WNBA.  Greenberg writes that the ABL must continue to
     sign the top talent out of college and "must guard against
     incursions among current pros."  But the league "has done
     well at fostering loyalty among the 35 key players it signed
     in its start-up phase," as the Rage's Dawn Staley and the
     Blizzard's Jennifer Rizzotti "are the only unsigned players
     in that group."  In Philadelphia, the Rage drew 3,238,
     "about the same" as the 3,139 it drew when it played in
     Richmond.  But Rage GM Cathy Andruzzi said revenues were up
     40% over last year (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/19).  A
     COLUMBUS DISPATCH editorial: "The ABL is the underdog of the
     two leagues in terms of marketing and promotion, but the
     clear winner in terms of muscle and overall performance"
     (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 3/17).  In Boston, Susan Bickelhaupt
     writes that while the ABL is "pleased" with the results that
     show a 23% increase in league-wide attendance over last
     year, there are "still challenges for the league's third
     season."  ABL COO and co-Founder Steve Hams said that more
     TV coverage, an earlier season and an expanded league "are
     all on the agenda" for next season (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/19).  
          RECRUITMENT: USA TODAY's Valerie Lister examines the
     recruitment of college players by the WNBA and ABL during
     the NCAA Women's Final Four in Kansas City, MO.  Both
     leagues will have player reps on-site and also hold parties. 
     The ABL will have a forum to educate players, coaches and
     fans about the league.  The WNBA will sponsor a clinic for
     elementary school children (USA TODAY, 3/19). 

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