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).