SBJ/April 3 - 9, 2006/World Congress Of Sports

Johnson thinks her blueprint will serve WNBA well

One-on-One: Sheila Johnson, Washington Mystics

There’s nothing mystical about Johnson’s
plan to draw fans.
WNBA Washington Mystics managing partner and governor Sheila Johnson called the women’s basketball league the “purest form of the game,” and stressed that everything the team does in the arena is family-based.

The audience for Mystics games is 70 percent female, she said, but “we want more men at the games to show them how the game is played.”

Meanwhile, Johnson’s marketing plan is one she thinks can serve as a boilerplate for all WNBA teams.

“I have a passion to sell my team,” she said. That plan includes pre-movie commercials, fan forums, stroking local media and season-ticket holders, raffles and more.

“I want to bring the classroom onto the basketball court and reach young people through our team,” she said.

It involves a personal connection with young people. “It’s cool to be with the Mystics, and to eat right and stop beating each other up,” she said.

As for her pitch to attract corporate dollars?

“Women have more credit cards than men,” she said. “Women spend money. We support every company in this country. We give to you; give back to us. We are valuable. It’s time for you to give back to women’s sports. We need your help.”

The team for the first time has three $100,000 sponsorships. “I don’t take no for an answer,” Johnson said.

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