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Kansas City Sting?


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Source says deal near to send Sting packing

CLIFF MEHRTENS AND STEVE HARRISON

cmehrtens@charlotteobserver.com | sharrison@charlotteobserver.com

The Charlotte Sting, an original WNBA franchise, is in the process of being sold and moved to a group in Kansas City, Mo., according to a source close to the situation.

The Sting, owned by Bobcats Sports and Entertainment, which also owns the NBA Charlotte Bobcats, has had shaky attendance since its inception in 1997. A local group of investors, led by sports marketing executive Cindy Sisson-Hensley, tried this fall to buy the team for between $6 and $8 million, but wasn't able to raise enough money.

Sisson-Hensley's deadline to meet the team's asking price was today. She said the WNBA had told the team it needed to know where the team would be playing so it could begin planning for the 2007 season, which begins in May.

The Bobcats wouldn't comment on whether the team is being sold.

"We are undergoing an extensive evaluation of our entire business, and that includes the Sting, and we're working with the league on all aspects of the evaluation," said Scott Leightman, a spokesman for the Bobcats and Sting.

A source close to the situation told The Observer the Bobcats are in the process of closing the deal with Kansas City owners.

A spokesman for the WNBA didn't return calls from The Observer on Monday.

The Sting averaged 5,783 fans at 17 games at Bobcats Arena last summer, 13th among 14 WNBA teams. The league average was 7,433.

It is unclear if the Sting will play in Charlotte next year.

The Sting averaged more than 8,000 fans the first two seasons (1997-98), but attendance and interest slipped steadily. The team hasn't played well since being acquired by the Bobcats as part of majority owner Bob Johnson's deal to land an NBA franchise on Jan. 10, 2003.

Charlotte was 11-23 last season, its third straight with a losing record. The Sting hasn't been in the playoffs since 2003.

The WNBA enjoyed enthusiastic crowds during its early years, but some teams are still subsidized by the NBA. The Sting would be the sixth team to either fold or move.

Johnson vowed to pump the same energy and resources into the Sting as he did with the NBA team when he purchased them in 2003. But the team didn't spend as much money promoting the team as it did in past years. It hired as coach Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues, a popular former Charlotte Hornets point guard, but his presence on the bench did little to spark attendance.

Possibly putting pressure on Johnson was the performance of the NBA's Bobcats, who, in their third year, are tied for the league's worst record at 5-15. The team has also struggled to sell tickets.

The Seattle Times reported that Johnson was one of eight NBA owners who wrote the league office this season pleading for financial help. The owners want the league to redistribute some local TV and radio revenue from big-market teams to smaller ones.

The letter said the eight teams are "looking at significant and unacceptable annual financial losses."

The NBA, which started the WNBA ten years ago, has encouraged more teams to be owned by outside owners and not a parent NBA team.

Kansas City is building a new arena downtown, Sprint Center, though it doesn't have a major-league tenant yet.

"We have talked about putting together a local ownership group for a WNBA team, but I don't know anymore than that," said Brenda Tinnen, general manager of Sprint Center, which is opening in October. The team could play in older facilities, such as Kemper Arena, or Municipal Auditorium until then.

Sisson-Hensley's group, BCK Holdings, also included Belva Greenage, a retired Bank of America executive and Kelly Kent, also with Bank of America.

"It's a shame," said Sisson-Hensley. "We tried and we had passion. It's a huge loss."

MEH!

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I will say that when they had the ground breaking for the Sprint Center, I believe the WNBA commish was there.

Seems like they hvae targeted KC as a WNBA market for a while.

Locally Kansas State, Washburn University (D-II), and Emporia State (D-II) have great followings for their Women's teams. Washburn and Emporia State both were recently ranked #1 in D-II. Washburn won the D-II championship a few years back.

I think they are thinking they can capitalize on that.

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I've got to agree with some of the above... if you're not making money drawing 5,000 a game, you've created some serious expenses for yourselves that you shouldn't have.

That being said, $8 million could be a steal, if the team were placed in the right market. Charlotte's got the NFL and NBA competing with it, not to mention that Charlotte's fans generally are a bunch of front-runners (that's true here in Raleigh as well, Charlatains, so don't shoot the messenger), so I'm not surprised by this at all.

Kansas City might be a solid market, primarily because there's no pro basketball competition to be had.

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Sure, I'll probably only go to one game a season (maybe I'm getting ahead of myself), but either way I think this is a start. NHL or NBA just give us a big-time tenant for the Sprint Center. The development here in KC is astounding; a new arena, stadium renovations, light rail, and an entertainment district, but IMO you have to be a major league town for most of those to be effective, and that's where we're headed. I do like the idea of black and gold to match Sprint, and I think it could be likely, particularly if they keep their name, the Sting... Though it matches Mizzou. :puke:

KC Jayhawk

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the problem with professional womens leagues like the WNBA is that they run in to a few problems

A) Sports is generally a mens demographic. While women do watch sports, its nowhere near the demographic as men. While mens sports can get women to watch, its hard to get men to watch womens sports unless its tennis to watch the next up and comming 18year old hottie.

B)Post NBA basketball. By the time the NBA is over, the people are already burned out on nearly 6 months of NBA basketball. So its very difficult to get people excited, especially when people are already on to baseball. So now they have to compete with baseball which the majority of people are interested in in the summer months.

I really don't know what they expect, summer womens pro ball is at a disadvantage by default. they can't go up against the NBA during the regular season and people are burned out by it by summer.

that said i wouldn't mind womens pro league like the WNBA. I'd watch that on DirecTV. I always get a kick out of womens NCAA hockey games.

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  • 3 months later...

Searching the forums, this is the only thread that dealt with the Sting's financial struggles.

So, even though the news came out months ago (I only found out this week), I just thought I'd add that the WNBA is folding the Charlotte Sting for the 2007 season.

Charlotte Sting Disbanded

I just find it funny that the WNBA, after expanding to 16 teams, folded 3, then decided it'd be a good idea to expand again to 14, then folded another team.

Oh well, at least Chicago gets the first picks in the dispanding and college drafts (god knows we need it after going 5-29 in our first season!)

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There has been some talk in the news, though only a low muffle, that a WNBA team was going to move here. The Penguins situation was more in the lime-light, but now that is over, who knows.

If they've disbanded the team and dispursed the players, what's next?

Probably won't play until the 2008 season. The name will change too.

KC Sting sounds good - who knows.

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