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Tulsa's New WNBA Club Will Take The Floor With New Nickname
Published October 21, 2009
|Bill Cameron, Donna Orender, David Box On
Hand To Introduce WNBA To Tulsa
CUT DAY: Palace Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Tom Wilson yesterday acknowledged that the "tough economy played a major role in selling" the Shock. Wilson said the team lost "somewhere near" $2M for the '09 season. He added, "In tough times you have to make tough decisions. The attendance this year was the toughest ever, and we had to make the call. ... We had owners stick by year after year through millions of dollars in losses, but they felt obligated and believed in the product. It was just time." Late Pistons and Shock Owner Bill Davidson passed away in March, and Wilson said, "I don't know if it would have made a difference if Mr. Davidson was still alive. We're in uncharted water with the economy the way it is right now. We had a board of owners meeting and it was unanimous" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/21). Wilson in a letter posted on the Shock Web site said, "The current state of the economy has presented us with incredible challenges. We, like many of you, have had to make some very difficult decisions -- ones we hoped we never had to make -- and sadly, this move to Tulsa is one of those decisions" (THE DAILY).
SECOND TIME'S THE CHARM? In Detroit, Terry Foster writes the Shock have a "better chance of surviving in the smaller market where there's less competition and more people receptive to women's athletics." When you "try to place women's athletics in major cities up against the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL, it eventually dies" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/21). In Tulsa, Jimmie Tramel writes the WNBA "will thrive in Tulsa." Team GM & coach Nolan Richardson "has street cred here," and people who "might have zero interest in the WNBA will go to games because of the Nolan factor." Also, has "any pro sports franchise in Tulsa ever emphasized this demographic -- young girls -- for ticket sales?" No matter "what the event is, people will go to the BOK Center just because the arena is that cool." Tramel: "Give Tulsans a major league team to call their own and history says they'll get on the bandwagon. ... If Tulsans want the WNBA to be a hit, then it will be a hit" (TULSA WORLD, 10/21). ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel noted as the WNBA "transitions away from the disappointment of Detroit to a new hope in Tulsa, it's in the same boat it has been: It's not going to sink, but it's also not close to smooth sailing." The league "isn't going to deliver huge TV ratings, but it strives to be a viable programming option." But this move to Tulsa is "about more than just that city or even the state of Oklahoma." It will be the "first WNBA franchise in the middle of Big 12 territory, and that league has led the nation in college women's hoops attendance for the past 10 seasons in a row" (ESPN.com, 10/20).