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ABL'S FINAL NUMBERS SHOW 23% INCREASE IN ATTENDANCE
Published March 19, 1998
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).