Friday, December 13, 2002

WNBA CRAPPING OUT WATCH: Next up, the dissipation of the Seattle Storm--who are losing money despite Sue freaking Bird--or at least a move a little southwards:

Tacoma Dome Director Mike Combs said the city has been talking to the Seattle Storm for at least three weeks about relocating to Tacoma. The Dome is offering the team a more affordable lease than KeyArena, and Combs said the South Sound has the fan base to support a WNBA team.

"We'd be excited to have them," he said. "It would be great for the city."

The Storm's spring and summer game schedule - the WNBA recently increased its season by two games to 34, and it will run from Memorial Day to mid-September 2003 - fits in well with the Dome, which sees its busiest seasons in the fall and winter, Combs said.

Also, he said, the building is well suited to a basketball team.

"Tacoma's proximity to Seattle is compelling," Karen Bryant, vice president of Storm operations, said Thursday. "We're in discussions with Tacoma. They're not much more serious than that."

The Storm is looking at other facilities for two reasons - the new WNBA operating agreement grants teams the right to play home games in non-NBA arenas, and the Storm's three-year lease with KeyArena expires on Dec. 31.

"Those two circumstances were the catalyst for looking at other options," Bryant said. "We're losing money, so we're looking at all of our major expense lines. We firmly believe that our best opportunity is to stay at KeyArena. But we're looking at other options."

The team is also looking at arena possibilities in Spokane, Yakima and Everett. But moving to Spokane or Yakima seems unlikely because that would entail relocating the entire Storm organization.

I would love a small-market tilted WNBA with the Sparks and Liberty being the big-market anchors, for my own goofy reasons.

Oh, and hey: Paul Allen wants to cut the Fire loose, despite having Jackie freaking Stiles:

Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen wants to cut the Fire loose from his money-losing operation. In the WNBA's current restructuring, Allen has the first option to own the Fire, but he reportedly has urged other buyers to come forward -- in a hurry.

Unless the WNBA team can find a new owner in the Portland area within the next two weeks, the Fire likely will be extinguished.

The Washington Times wraps it all up for you.

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