SBD/October 4, 2013/Franchises

WNBA Sky Still Operating In The Red Despite Delle Donne Leading Team To Playoffs

About 90% of the Sky’s games were broadcast on local cable this season
The WNBA Sky are “still in the red” after eight years in the league, according to Melissa Isaacson of ESPNW. The Sky's seven-year playoffs drought prior to this season “clearly did not help," but that’s not the part “that has confounded” team Owner Michael Alter. He said, “I was less concerned about how that would all come to pass than on the business side. That’s definitely harder than I thought.” Isaacson wrote it is corporate Chicago that “has let the Sky down.” Alter: "Most of the men's sports dollars are corporate dollars. Sky boxes, season tickets -- they spend tons of money. And I thought to get them to spend a small fraction of that on us was a no-brainer, boom, it's done -- and that hasn't happened, and it has been an enormous learning process for me." Though Chicago is a big market, it is “an expensive one in which to advertise and Sky simply don't have the budget to compete.” Alter said that Chicago "doesn’t have the women’s sports culture or history of places like Connecticut and Seattle.” But he added that local media “have been coming along” and that attendance is up 20%. Also, about 90% of the Sky’s games “were broadcast on local cable affiliate WCIU, with ratings higher than” those of the MLS Fire and “comparable (in early June) to those of the Cubs and White Sox.” Alter said that the relationship between the Sky and the Bulls “is a strong one, including Bulls Night at a Sky game” for the first time in ’13, but it “would have been a huge help early on” to have them as partners. Alter also said that although “the Sky’s quick playoff elimination was ‘pretty devastating,’” he is hopeful that decisions by F Elena Delle Donne and GM & Coach Pokey Chatman to stay in Chicago “will help raise the team’s profile” (ESPNW.com, 10/2).
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Franchises, Chicago Sky, WNBA

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