POSTED ON JULY 29, 2009:
Stay Away WNBA
Wait a minute, did our columnist just say that?
Last week I shared my dreams with you. How did the city of Tulsa reward me? With a nightmare of epic proportions. I am going to need a minute before I can... (deep breath). How about a few positive words first?
The scene was surreal this past Saturday night at the new Friction nightclub, located inside Hard Rock Casino in Catoosa. A horde of Tapout and Affliction clad males lined the roped-off area. They waited--hoping to catch a glimpse of MMA superstar Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell.
Dozens of VIP's and contest winners did the "pic and autograph" deal with the iconic fighter. The eclectic mix of fans was impressive. Young, old, male, female... hell, I even bumped into my primary physician. Guess we'll have something else to talk about next time he's checking my prostate.
The event lived up to the hype and the Iceman delivered another knockout with the fans . . .
Played my first round of golf in Tulsa last Friday. I can now vouch for my buddy Kev who mentioned a few weeks ago that tee times are easy to come by this summer.
On Thursday, I booked an 8am slot for Friday. That's right, just one day notice. Five years ago I couldn't touch an 8am Friday morning slot on any course the day before. I know most courses are trying, but trust me, you can do better.
I feel safe in making the following blanket statement on behalf of Tulsa sports fans across Green Country. We do not want a WNBA franchise.
News surfaced last week that Tulsa and a couple of investors from Oklahoma City were interested in bringing a WNBA franchise to our city. The simple answer? If the Oklahoma City group thinks it is such a great idea, bring a team to your city.
I can honestly say I've broached this topic with dozens of sports fans. Guess what the overwhelming response has been? No thanks.
Here are several unedited comments from sports fans who are supposed to buy the hype and embrace the move:
"It will bomb and make future professional teams less likely."
"Who wants to see WNBA, not me... not even worth the beer money I would spend."
"WNBA -- yuck!"
You get the idea. These are sports fans. They are not interested. It is not just my friends either. Ask around your office and gage for yourself. When was the last time someone you know mentioned the WNBA? When is the last time you watched a game? Quick, name five players. Gong!
This is not an attack on women's sports. No sexism here. If you've read my column through the years you know my fascination with the LPGA. I would even support a women's professional soccer team if the city went in that direction.
It is not an attack on basketball either. No one loves the NBA or college hoops like I do. Women's college basketball has its own appeal.
However, the WNBA game is dull. Passing off "I touched the rim on the lay-up" as a dunk speaks volumes of the inadequacies.
NBA commissioner David Stern steadily pumps money into the league even though it continues to run red. I'm not averse to the WNBA on the whole. It's fantastic since college grads such as Courtney Paris now have a way to earn money after college.
Just keep it out of my town please.
The proposed Tulsa franchise would need to pack 5,000 fans into the BOK Center each game to break even. While 5,000 doesn't sound like a lot, take this into consideration.
The Tulsa Talons barely average more than 5k per home game and we love football. The Oilers are close to the 5k mark as well. Wouldn't you rather watch an af2 contest or hockey game?
Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles are a few of the big-time cities with WNBA teams. Each is also home to a NBA team. This is supposed to add allure. Guess what else these cities have that we don't want? Imploding housing markets.
OKC investors, you want the WNBA so bad, bring them to OKC. Keep this in mind, Tulsa. Oklahoma City refused to name their NBA franchise after the state.
Their overriding desire to have "City" attached to the name served only to inflate their egos. This is the same Thunder franchise which refuses to play a regular season game at the BOK Center. Elitist.
Now they are begging for investment dollars from Tulsa business people. Tulsa, we can do better. Don't be fooled by the hype. You may as well buy GM stock if throwing money down the toilet is your style.
On top of all this, I would hope the local minor league franchises would veto this move. Even if the WNBA drew 3,000 fans per game (a more feasible number) that is probably 2,000 fans relocating limited disposable entertainment income on another franchise.
Granted, their target demographics are different. The WNBA targets youth female basketball players while also drawing solid numbers from the lesbian community. Who is buying the middle schooler's WNBA ticket? Parents who may have tapped the money for a Drillers game in the past.
Here is a quote that caught my ear. Can't attribute it because the spin-masters were hard at work last Wednesday. "This will really put Tulsa on the major sports market map." So major golf championships no longer count?
Besides, do we really want to be on ESPN for the wrong reasons? Can't you hear it now? Scott Van Pelt: "Here is the WNBA highlight from Tulsa. Do you think the city realizes it is ok to sell tickets to the game?" Neil Everett: "Yeah. Look at me, I'm Neil Everett and my hair is fabulous."
If the Tulsa 66ers struggle to fill seats for professional-level basketball in Tulsa, what makes these short-sighted investors think the WNBA will draw crowds?
T-Town! Rise up and let your voice be heard. If you read the above and agree, write the editor at UTW, call a sports radio talk show and complain. Call your city leaders and let them know.
Let's dust off the '80s circa anti-drug campaign for old time's sake. "Just Say No!"
We can do better.
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