Tuesday, July 21, 2015
1. The first thing that Tulsa Shock fans should realize - nothing is done yet. Forget about the announcements on the Tulsa Shock website. Forget about Bill Cameron and forget about the Tulsa World. Until the moving vans are headed out of Tulsa, nothing is a done deal yet. There are very few "hard and fast" rules in the universe and the (potential) relocation of a basketball team isn't physics. We're just in the negotiations stage.
2. Tulsa has already lost the 66ers, the D-league affiliate of the Oklahoma City Thunder. According to John Klein - that guy at the Tulsa World that never wrote about the Shock except to say "good riddance" - the BOK Center wasn't an option for the Thunder because they only averaged 2,020 ticket sold during the 2013-14 season. Losing the Shock will be the last tie of any sort between Tulsa and professional basketball. Arena football moved out of Tulsa in 2012 and the replacement team shut down in 2014.
3. Many Tulsans on the internet talk about Tulsa being a bad sports town, but the examples are hard to find. Maybe the perception is more important than the reality.
4. The Shock still have half a season to play at the BOK Center. Perhaps the plan is for Bill Cameron and David Box to take a tax write-off. The news that the team is moving certainly won't help the team move any tickets.
Really, Cameron/Box win either way. If there's a fan resurgence, they pocket the increase in ticket sales. If the fans turn their backs on the shock and it shows at the turnstile, it becomes, "See? Told you we had to move."
5. John Klein writes that it will be hard for the Shock to command the attention in the Dallas media market than they could in Tulsa. However, he fails to write two numbers:
Tulsa population: 400,000
Dallas population: 1,300,000
By sheer numbers, it will be easier to draw fans in Dallas than Tulsa. Interested Dallasites are already planning their season ticket purchases. If Cameron/Box rent out the American Airlines Center, that could mean synergy with the Mavericks.
6. These numbers might be the most important ones to look at:
2012 Election Results
in Tulsa: Romney 64 percent, Obama 36 percent
in Dallas: Obama 57 percent, Romney 42 percent
The WNBA fanbase in probably the most liberal fanbase in any professional sport. And Tulsa simply isn't a liberal city. It's a majority-white red city in a very red state. Dallas is a minority-white blue city. A WNBA team is simply more likely to find an audience in Dallas than it is in Tulsa.
When the Detroit Shock moved to Tulsa, four players decided not to travel with the team. Liz Cambage played a while in Tulsa, and then decided to stay in Australia. I doubt the same will happen if Tulsa moves to Dallas.
7. If Tulsa wants to save their team, the time is now and Tulsa will have to play hardball to do it. Klein in his article in the Tulsa World mentioned that Tulsa could at least offer the WNBA civic pride and stability. Having Tulsa be the Green Bay Packers of the WNBA is not out of the question.
If the city really wants WNBA basketball, it will have to show it. The fans will have to make the effort because no one else is going to make it. This will involve getting the #saveourshock hashtag in social media, this will involve networking the patrons of the arts and business in Tulsa, this will involve the city government, this will have to involve everyone, including John Klein and the Tulsa World.
This should involve, at the very least:
a) a 2016 season ticket drive, so that Shock fans can show some hard numbers to the WNBA, and
b) a new owner to step up, one that has deep enough pockets so that the team can succeed there.
8. Unfortunately, Cameron and Box still own the team. They can move it wherever they want. Does Tulsa really want a replacement team, one that is guaranteed to be awful for another four years, one without the media drawing power of a Skylar Diggins? That's a tough question with no easy answer.
9. I wonder how much the staph infections that hit the team in 2010 and 2012 had to do with this move.
10. Just remember: hope isn't over. The Dream have gone through not one, but two changes of franchise ownership. And like I said, the team isn't moved until the moving vans head out. As we learned with the Sparks, a month in basketball can be an eternity.
at 11:41 AM
Friday, July 17, 2015
Those are members of the Tulsa City Council. The yellow shirts are "Save Our Shock" t-shirts.
I don't know whether or not there's any real intent to move the Shock out of Tulsa, but the Save our Shock movement is taking on momentum of its own. Whether it's just to support the Shock or to prevent an actual move, it's a good thing to see people giving high priority to the Tulsa Shock.
at 10:56 AM
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Remember how in an earlier post I claimed that Connecticut didn't have a jersey sponsorship because the team is named after the resort they played in? Guess I was wrong!
The Sun just announced a marquee sponsorship with Frontier Communications. The new agreement will "be prominently positioned on the front of Connecticut Sun home and road jerseys" according to the agreement. The brand will be placed on the basketball stanchions as well. (I always wanted to know what those things were that held up the goal.)
This leaves Atlanta, Seattle, and Washington as the only teams that do not have a jersey sponsorship - I believe that nine jersey sponsorships are the most the league has ever had. The only team that has never had a jersey sponsorship is Atlanta.
at 3:46 PM
A blog posted in the Tulsa World discussed the possibility that the 2015 season might be the Shock's final season in Tulsa. According to Dillon Holingsworth:
"A persistent rumor is circulating: At least a portion of the Shock’s ownership is interested in moving the team to Dallas."
He doesn't say where the rumor is coming from, just that it exists. Dillon Hollingsworth decided to reach out to Shock ownership, but aside from one minority owner who stated that such plans were "erroneous", he was unable to reach majority owner Bill Cameron.
That shouldn't be a surprise. Majority owners of WNBA clubs tend to be very busy people and they tend not to sit down with reporters as a general rule. (Else, the media requests would never end.) I also don't agree with the statement "If the rumor was false, one might think the owners would want to squash it publicly." As anyone who has read a newspaper knows, a squashed rumor is often used to stoke a fire - "hey, there must be some credence to the rumor; else why the push to deny it?"
More interesting is the target of this rumored move - Dallas. Dallas hasn't generally been connected with the WNBA or WNBA moves in the past. You'd think the owner of a prospective Dallas franchise might be Mark Cuban, but he's shown no interest in owning one. (At least he's not negative about it.) It could be that he might be interested in having an existing WNBA team rent his arena over the summer, so why not Tulsa?
Dallas does have some women's basketball background. It was the previous home of the Dallas Diamonds back in the last 1970s, when the Women's Pro Basketball League existed. The Diamonds were the first pro team of Nancy Lieberman. Dallas never did draw well, but none of the old WBL teams drew well.
If a team in the WNBA were to relocate, wouldn't San Francisco be the natural target? Joe Lacob showed interest in acquiring the Los Angeles Sparks, the longer-standing rumor is that he's in line for the next WNBA team to relocate. That rumor might be as true as the Tulsa to Dallas rule. San Francisco with its lesbian and forward-thinking population would be the natural target for a WNBA team.
How likely is this rumor to be true? Hard to say. No one would have thought that the Los Angeles Sparks would have an ownership crisis at the end of the 2013, but that happened. If such a thing does happen, it will appropriately hit like the lightning bolt in the Shock logo.
at 10:01 AM
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
June 1, 2009: Phoenix announces the very first WNBA jersey sponsorship. LifeLock, an internet identity-theft protection company, enters a deal with Phoenix which will replace the Mercury logo across the jersey with the LifeLock brand. The sponsorship gets a lot of media attention. The announcement is made just before the start of the 2009 WNBA regular season. It would work out well for LifeLock in 2009 as the Mercury would win the WNBA Championship that year.
June 5, 2009: Not to be outdone, the Los Angeles Sparks enter a jersey sponsorship with Farmers Insurance. The Farmers Insurance name and logo will appear across the jersey. The deal is announced one day before the start of the regular season on June 6.
April 21, 2010: The Seattle Storm enter an agreement with Microsoft for a jersey sponsorship. Rather than the Microsoft name and logo, the sponsorship deal places the logo for the search engine Bing across the front of the jersey.
June 2, 2010: With the 2010 WNBA season already underway, the New York Liberty enter a jersey sponsorship with the Foxwoods Casino. The Foxwoods name and logo will appear across the jersey, bringing the number of WNBA teams with jersey sponsors to four. (*)
April 7, 2011: The Washington Mystics move the total number of teams having jersey sponsors to five, signing a long-term deal with Inova Health System that is described as "the largest deal in the club's 13-year history". The Inova logo will be substituted for the team name.
August 22, 2011: The WNBA signs a long term deal with Boost Mobile. This is a league-wide jersey sponsorship which places the Boost Mobile logo on every jersey. Initially, the logo is placed on 10 team jerseys, the only exceptions being Phoenix and San Antonio which have existing business relationships with other long-distance providers. As of this writing, the jersey sponsorship is still in place.
October 19, 2012: The Indiana Fever announces a partnership with athletic retailer Finish Line for prominent logo placement similar to other deals across the wNBA.
End 2012: The deals with Farmers Insurance and Foxwoods Casino expire. The loss of the deal with Farmers Insurance is a major reason why Paula Madison would turn the Sparks over to the league at the end of the 2013 regular season. (The Sparks would soon find new ownership.) At the beginning of the 2013 season, the team names will reappear in the front of Sparks and Liberty jerseys.
January 31, 2013: The Tulsa Shock enter a partnership where the Osage Casino logo will appear across the Shock jerseys. Five teams - Indiana, Phoenix, Seattle, Tulsa, and Washington - will have jersey sponsorships over the 2013 season.
End 2013: The deal between Phoenix and LifeLock is not renewed.
January 14, 2014: The San Antonio Silver Stars make two announcements. The first is that they will shortening the team name to the Stars. The second is a sponsorship with locally based grocer H-E-B where the business logo replaces the team name.
February 3, 2014: The Phoenix Mercury enter into an exclusive partnership with Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort including branding on the Mercury home and away jerseys.
March 17, 2014: The Mayo Clinic enters an expanded partnership with the Minnesota Lynx. WNBA President Laurel Richie announces the partnership as "the biggest partnership of this sort that we have ever had." Six WNBA teams will wear logos in the coming 2014 seasons.
May 7, 2014: It is announced that Microsoft/Bing will no longer be a jersey sponsor of the Seattle Storm, ending a four year deal.
End 2014: The deal between Washington and Inova Healthcare runs out. In the 2015 season, the team name will return to the front of Mystics jerseys.
May 14, 2015: The Chicago Sky gets its first jersey sponsor. It is announced as the biggest corporate sponsorship in the team's 10-year history, a expanded relationship with Deerfield-based specialty steel distributor Magellan. However, in a difference from other sponsorship deals, the Magellan name will not replace the team's name on the jerseys - the Magellan logo is located on the jersey's upper left shoulder.
May 21, 2015: EquiTrust Insurance enters a partnership with the Los Angeles Sparks for a jersey sponsorship. The EquiTrust logo will replace the team name on Sparks jerseys.
June 4, 2015: It is announced one day before the start of the 2015 regular season that DraftKings.com will be a marquee partner of the New York Liberty. This includes a logo substitution for the team name on the jersey. Eight teams now have jersey sponsorships in the WNBA.
June 20, 2015: The Indiana Fever renew their deal with Finish Line.
(*) Technically, the Connecticut Sun's jersey is sponsored - or rather, the very "Sun" name itself represents a sponsorship as the team is owned by the Mohegan Indian tribe and plays in the Mohegan Sun Casino Resort, thus the name.
Excluding Connecticut, the only WNBA team not to have had a jersey sponsorship at some time in its history is Atlanta.
at 9:47 AM
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
When I was writing for SA, I posted an article about women's basketball programs that had higher average attendance than men's programs. Now, with new data from the NCAA, I have updated the data to the end of the 2014-15 season!
So which women's basketball programs over the past five years have been more popular than the men's basketball programs at the same school over the same five years? As it turns out, there are six schools where the women outdraw the men.
Lowest Ratio of Men's Average Attendance to Women's Average Attendance, 2010-15
Marist, Delaware, Tennessee-Martin, Baylor and Notre Dame all have programs where the women outdraw the men. (Apologists arriving in three...two...one....). However, there is greater variance in men's basketball attendance than women's basketball attendance and when men's schools have good years they can eclipse any women's basketball program out there.
Of course, if there are programs where the women consistently outdraw the men, there must be programs at the bottom of the list where the women's program is eclipsed by the men's. And as you can tell from the numbers posted, the scale is much greater.
Highest Ratio of Men's Average Attendance to Women's Average Attendance, 2010-15
|San Diego St.||17.88|
Note that there are programs where the women's program is segregated to an older gymnasium with a reduced seating capacity. Georgetown, Providence, and Creighton are all guilty of that. But would those programs be any better off playing in the men's arenas? Look at poor Syracuse at the bottom. The men can fill their cavernous dome; the women are almost an afterthought.
Some other numbers of interest:
There is only one women's basketball school that has increased its attendance every year from 2009 to 2015. That's Furman. In 2009-10, they averaged 257 students per game, and have steadily increased to 312, 372, 422, 428, 461 and 561. Furthermore, they are the only school that has increased its attendance from 2010 to 2015.
There are other schools, besides Furman that have increased their attendance over the last four seasons. Long Beach State and Longwood have shown increases in attendance each season from 2011 to 2015.
But the big winner from 2011-2015 is South Carolina. The numbers have ballooned under Dawn Staley's program, moving from 3139 per game to 3952, then 6171, then 12293 per game. The numbers in 2014-15 were good enough to make South Carolina the #1 program in women's average attendance for 2014-15.
Of course, there are programs that moving in the other direction. What follows are the schools where average attendance has decreased over each of the last four seasons.
There are some big names on this list. There's no name bigger than that of Connecticut. It would take Connecticut fans to explain why the most successful women's basketball program in the United States has been decreasing in attendance since 2011.
For your amusement, the entire list follows. We use a "sum of averages" method to derive the final ratio.
|Middle Tenn. St.||22881||20386||1.12|
|AR Little Rock||14542||11696||1.24|
|Miss. Valley St.||11590||8492||1.36|
|Wisc. Green Bay||16715||11833||1.41|
|South Dakota St||15102||10441||1.45|
|Fla Gulf Coast||14346||9900||1.45|
|Sam Houston St.||5649||3636||1.55|
|MD Eastern Shore||10948||7011||1.56|
|Texas A&M C.C.||6897||4302||1.60|
|Prairie View A&M||9931||6153||1.61|
|St. Francis (PA)||5018||3093||1.62|
|E. Tennessee St.||14425||8523||1.69|
|Texas Pan Amer.||4261||2433||1.75|
|MD Baltimore Cty.||6609||3685||1.79|
|TX San Antonio||6321||3517||1.80|
|Central Conn. St.||8499||4209||2.02|
|S. Carolina St.||3802||1858||2.05|
|Stephen F. Austin||13221||6308||2.10|
|AR Pine Bluff||16388||6857||2.39|
|San Jose St.||8342||3149||2.65|
|SE Missouri St.||11147||3542||3.15|
|North Dakota St||15187||4464||3.40|
|Mount St. Mary's||6204||1596||3.89|
|St. Francis (NY)||4033||975||4.14|
|Long Beach St.||17152||3672||4.67|
|William & Mary||13106||2532||5.18|
|New Mexico St.||29743||5145||5.78|
|San Diego St.||61006||3412||17.88|
|Abilene Christian, Grand Canyon, Incarnate Word and|
|Umass Lowell only have one year of data, the 2014-15 year.|
at 9:01 AM