WNBA for Tulsa?

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There's an effort underway to try to land a Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) franchise for Tulsa. The president of the league is in Tulsa today for a reception to which BOK Center premium seat holders have been invited, with a message from Mayor Kathy Taylor urging them to turn out and support this "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our city."

The e-mail has the over-the-top language we expect to hear from Taylor: "Bringing the WNBA to Tulsa is a civic investment that will add to the quality of life and benefit the growth and revitalization of downtown. It will provide positive encouragement and influence to young women, men and aspiring athletes."

Tulsa World Sports Editor Mike Strain has his doubts about a Tulsa WNBA team's chances:

The league has been unstable, with seven teams either folding, suspending operations or relocating since 2002.

And investors in this venture face a question: Is there demand for women's professional basketball in Tulsa?

That's a tough one to answer, but some evidence doesn't look good. Women's college games draw poorly in Tulsa. And the Tulsa 66ers' men's professional basketball team -- albeit a minor league club -- also has attendance that routinely falls under 2,000.

He quotes several reader comments, including this one:

DrewTU: This will have lower attendance than 10 AM movies on a Tuesday.

If private investors want to bring a team as one entertainment option among many for Tulsans, let it succeed or fail based on whether Tulsans want to spend their money to see the games. But this doesn't warrant the attention of elected officials or the waving of the "civic pride" flag to manipulate people into attending the games or sponsoring the team. We've already given them a $200 million subsidy for a place to play. They will qualify for the same Quality Jobs Act incentives that the Oklahoma City Thunder receives. That should be enough.

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Ron Denton said:

And how much tax money/incentives/rebates will be wasted on yet another subsidy for a selected type of entertainment? Many of us could care less if we got an NFL franchise if we end up having to build them a house and subsidize their operations.

But it will bring jobs and economic development they say - yea, selling food and drink in a stadium. Thanks but no thanks, we've got plenty of $8/hour jobs now.

Why can't our so-called leaders understand that subsidizing the hospitality and entertainment sector is a waste of tax money. Too many other cities have already been down this road.

Steve Wooten said:

Why am I surprised of the negative tone here? Mr. Denton doesn't speak for me; I live in Tulsa, I am not so negative about everything that happens here. Change doesn't frighten everyone.

XonOFF said:

Why fire up the BOK Center when they couldn't even fill the old Civic Center Arena? That'd be sixteen dates which could be used more profitably at BOK Center.

USRufnex said:

This looks like a top-down effort from Kathy Taylor. I think this is her baby even moreso than it is the OKC-ers from the Thunder who are here stumping for private corporate support.

She strongly endorsed the NBA in OKC in the spring of 2008; David Stern uses her comments to stave off grumbling about OKC's smaller market size... Bill Cameron and David Box are part of the Thunder's ownership group under Clay Bennett.

--It wasn't a coincidence that in the summer of 2008, an "un-named group" hired CSL International to do a feasibility study for WNBA in Tulsa.
--It wasn't a coincidence when Clay Bennett bought the 66ers in July of 2008.
--It wasn't a coincidence when Henry Primaux added Bill Cameron and David Box to the ownership of the Talons in the offseason last year.
--And it is no coincidence that Cameron and Box are the driving force behind Tulsa's WNBA bid.

Did I leave anything out?

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 22, 2009 12:06 PM.

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