All-Star Game Returns to the Big Apple in 2003!

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) President Val Ackerman today announced that New York City and the New York Liberty have been selected to host the 2003 WNBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden. New York City Sports Commissioner Ken Podziba, President/CEO of NYC & Company Cristyne L. Nicholas, Madison Square Garden Sports Teams Operations President Steve Mills, NY Liberty Senior VP & General Manager Carol Blazejowski, NY Liberty players Teresa Weatherspoon, Sue Wicks, and Tamika Whitmore, and NY Liberty mascot “Maddie” also attended the announcement at City Hall. The WNBA All-Star Game will be held for the first time on a weekend, making its national network television debut as ABC broadcasts the event live on Saturday, July 12th.

“It is my pleasure to welcome the WNBA All-Star Game back to the ‘World's Most Famous Arena,’” Mayor Bloomberg said. “Returning to New York City will create even more global attention for the WNBA and its premier athletes, and I know that our enthusiastic fans will fill the Garden to see their favorite players in what promises to be an exciting game.”

The WNBA All-Star Game will be marking a return to the Big Apple, the site of the Inaugural All-Star Game on July 14, 1999. WNBA fans filled Madison Square Garden to capacity to witness that historic event five year ago, which included a memorable National Anthem performance by Whitney Houston to open the festivities. The Western Conference claimed victory with a 79-61 triumph over the Eastern Conference, as Los Angeles Sparks center Lisa Leslie claimed Most Valuable Player honors.

Val Ackerman at the podium joined by a number of distinguished Madison Square Garden, New York Liberty and New York State representatives and officials.

“WNBA fans have truly energized Madison Square Garden and the City of New York with their support of the Liberty and the WNBA,” WNBA President Ackerman said. “It is the perfect atmosphere for the league to celebrate its fifth All-Star Game, and we are excited to be bringing the event back to one of the greatest cities in the world.”

“We’re thrilled that the WNBA will be bringing its All-Star Game back to its first home -- Madison Square Garden,” NYC & Company President/CEO Nicholas said. “Visitors who come to New York City for the game will experience a city alive with an energy that’s second to none, except, perhaps, for that of the WNBA athletes!”

“New York, with its legendary basketball history, is proud to once again host the WNBA All-Star Game in Madison Square Garden, the ‘Mecca of Basketball,’” Commissioner Podziba said. “There is no better place to showcase the game’s finest players than on the worlds greatest stage, Madison Square Garden.”

Mayor Bloomberg with his Liberty garb!

The Washington Mystics hosted the 2002 WNBA All-Star Game at the MCI Center as the Western Conference All-Stars edged the Eastern Conference All-Stars, 81-76, with Lisa Leslie earning MVP honors for the second consecutive year and third time in her career. In 2001, the Orlando Miracle hosted the WNBA All-Star Game at the TD Waterhouse Centre, with the West earning an 80-72 victory over the East. In 2000, the Phoenix Mercury played host at America West Arena, as Tina Thompson of the Houston Comets was named MVP after leading the West to a 73-61 victory against the East.

The WNBA enters its seventh season in 2003 as the longest-running women's professional basketball league in U.S. history. Since joining the WNBA as one of the league's original eight teams in 1997 and earning four trips to the WNBA Finals in six seasons, the Liberty have become an important part of the New York City sports landscape. They are the WNBA's all-time attendance leader and are the reigning Eastern Conference Champions. A record 2,362,430 fans attended WNBA games during the 2002 season, with an average of 9,220 fans attending games, up from 9,075 in 2001. The 2002 WNBA Finals concluded with the Los Angeles Sparks capturing their second consecutive WNBA title.