WNBA President Talks About WNBA’s Future

June 24, 2008 | by Ericka Sanders
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    WNBA President Donna Orender is excited about the future of the league - and for good reason. She sees the league growing by at least two teams in the next five years, which in turn creates jobs; and the abundance of talent that takes the court each night is adding new fans.

    It’s also exciting that each season begins without a clear favorite to win the championship, which adds a little mystery and also a reason to catch each game that is on ESPN or ABC.

    In town to honor Indiana’s Tamika Catchings for her leadership in the community, Orender talked with FeverBasketball.com about the addition of teams and the new generation of players that will help the WNBA continue to grow.

    FeverBasketball.com: Although a couple of teams have folded in recent years, you’ve mentioned that you would like to add at least two teams in the next five years. Is this feasible?
    Donna Orender: The growth in the league is being led by the enormous explosion and the quality of talent. We’re seeing that because more girls are playing and being supported by all of the requisite infrastructures in terms of teams, programs and quality of coaches. All of that is going to continue to grow. The truth to the matter is every time you add a franchise you just added 13 jobs. It’s a real push now because teams are 11 and 12 players deep. There is a lot of talent sitting on the sideline. There are a lot of cities and communities saying they see (adding a team) as an asset that would be great for their community.

    FB: Atlanta seems like a great city for a franchise. It’s thriving and already has several sports teams. Although they’ve yet to win a game, how is the city supporting the team?
    DO: Atlanta remains a model franchise in the way it has embraced the city, the WNBA and it truly is their dream. They understand dreams are something you work hard for, you support through thick and thin, and there is this continuing commitment to the experience that they get even without winning. Remember not everyone can win all the time.

    The WNBA is a really deep commitment and that is what you see in Atlanta and a lot of our teams.

    FB: Looking in the stands this season at Indiana Fever games there are a lot more families, and fathers and daughters. Are you seeing this around the league and how important is it that the WNBA is seeing different faces along with the same great supporters?
    DO: We think that this is a basketball experience and entertainment experience that really embraces the family, those who are big fans of basketball - we know that includes a lot of guys, and we increasingly see more women because basketball has the highest percentage of female fans.

    What we’re seeing is this beautiful fabric of all different people creating this great texture and that is our fan base. It’s something that we’re all excited about.

    FB: How exciting is it for the WNBA to have such a dynamic young player like Los Angeles’ Candace Parker representing all it has to offer?
    DO: Candace Parker came to the WNBA with a significant fan base built on her basketball excellence as well as her radiating personality. She can play every position on the court, she had a lot of success at Tennessee winning two championships and people are intrigued by her.

    They’ve seen her on ESPN and I think the fact that we have a television partner such as ESPN that televises 100 NCAA games and then televises WNBA games is another great foretelling of our future.