Monday, September 14, 2009

Let's Ask Tulsa

Tulsa World reports on a poll by regarding interest in a WNBA franchise in Tulsa by Tulsans. is about as accurate as the Gallop Poll, for better or for worse.

These are the responses by actual citizens of Tulsa to a couple of questions about a WNBA team:

Do you favor or oppose having a WNBA team located in Tulsa?

Strongly favor: 34 percent
Somewhat favor: 36 percent
Neutral/No Opinion: 17 percent
Somewhat oppose: 6 percent
Strongly oppose: 7 percent

If a women's professional basketball (team) came to Tulsa, would you say you would:

Frequently attend games: 5 percent
Attend some games: 45 percent
Not attend any games: 49 percent
Don't know/Refused: 1 percent

Other numbers:

* interest was equal for both males and females
* Democrats were more favorable to a team than Republicans were
* Those under 45 were twice as likely to go to a game as those over 65

Why do I think these numbers are interesting? First, they're about as accurate as any political poll, which means that they're fairly accurate. No info on sample size is given, but it's probably representative.

Second: it gives us an idea of what real people think of the WNBA, not self-proclaimed haters who like to make claims that everyone dislikes the WNBA because they and their two friends don't like it. Money was spent to talk to actual living, breathing people.

The interesting numbers to me were the favor/disfavor numbers: At least 87 percent of the population of Tulsa is at least neutral to the idea of a WNBA team (70 percent are in favor to one degree or another). If you believe that those who only "somewhat oppose" the W can be dissuaded, then that leaves 93 percent of Tulsa is at least open to a sales pitch for a Tulsa WNBA team.

Furthemore, you have 50 percent of the population stating that they would attend "some" games. (Only five percent though stated that they would be frequently attending.) We can knock out about 36 percent of the population - those under 20 and those over 70 - and assuming a base of 400,000, that would be 12,800 people who would be attending games "frequently".

I think any WNBA franchise would want numbers like that. Of course, the proof is in the pudding - how many would really come to games? People can say that they'll show up during a poll, but how many of those really do show up? Even so, if you wanted to prop up the argument that Tulsa deserves a WNBA team, this might be a good support until someone can chop it down.


Ethan said...

Part of the problem with this exercise is that W-Tulsa is fairly undefined. (Which fuels the pushback from Helen at WHB as to why the rush into Tulsa?) Who will be on the roster? Will the team be any good? Is it expensive? Does it beat doing whatever Tulsans do for fun these days?

Thus, I think the 5% "hardcore fan" number rings true, as we can arguably state that the WNBA would be something of a fringey (?) sport in a place like Tulsa. Plus, the NBA is down the road a piece in OKC.

I think the W would be better served to open shop in OKC (certainly a shorter drive for me than to San An), but until ownership changes in OKC I'm not expecting it.

And: Interesting that so many people when polled expressed support, only to then claim they wouldn't actually attend any games. Conversely, interesting that 7% (the other fringe) adamantly opposed W-Tulsa when it is as yet undefined. As the motivational speaker Les Brown is wont to say, "some people say no to things when they have no idea what they're saying no to."

Anonymous said...

Frankly at this stage when the idea is at its most positive and exciting, these statistics are pretty grim. The numbers don't get better - at best you might be back at these numbers 6-7 years later if you win a championship although even then it will be mostly bandwagon fans not new season ticket holders, which is revenue that disappears just as quickly.

The Tulsa idea is simply dumb, and for whatever reason the league and Tulsa keeps pushing the dumb idea. I understand the league doing it (why not?) even though it will dilute team rosters again. But I still don't get why Tulsa remotely thinks this will be a winner there once the first season newness wears off. There is simply not a true core there at all for this to work long term, no matter how many sign up for year one. You can see the impact of a crappy first season here in Atlanta in a much bigger city with a much more favorable environment for the WNBA. Sure the economy has been the worst ever, but you better believe that 4-30 scared away many people with the ugliness.

Rebecca said...

So... 20% favor but wouldn't go? Then why the fuck do they favor it? That doesn't make any sense.

pt said...

It might not be so much a case of "wouldn't go" as "couldn't go". No transportation, no cash, other commitments. I think it's valid that some people might favor having a WNBA franchise but for whatever reason they'd be unable to attend games.

Ethan said...

I guess another way to frame it is, "I support it by not opposing it."

kansasdreamfan said...

I attended last year's Big 12 wbb tournament which was held in OK City. The Sooner and OSU fans filled the arena for most games, not just their own. These people love their wbb. I think they will support a team. It is also an area of the country that supports wbb so there will be lots of people who drive distances to watch occasional games. For example, if the Dream were to play there with Shalee on the roster. Any Big 12 fan available would be there no matter which college they support. Snatching a few OU alumni for the roster would be sure bet on huge season ticket sales - Ashley Paris... yes, I believe she is available... and talented!