WNBA Expanding to Chicago in 2006
"We are pleased to bring the WNBA to the city of Chicago, home of some of the most passionate basketball fans in the world," said Commissioner Stern. "As the WNBA enters its ninth year, the prospects for its future have never been brighter which is why it is attracting independent entrepreneurs like Michael Alter to invest in the league's expansion."
The Chicago team, which will be named at a later date, is the second WNBA team
to be owned and run by an entity outside of the NBA. In 2003, the Connecticut
Sun became the first independently owned and operated WNBA team.
A Chicago native, Alter is President of The Alter Group, one of the nation's ten largest commercial real estate developers. Since becoming President in 1995, he has transformed his family's company from a strong, regional office and industrial developer into one of the nation's preeminent privately held full-service real estate companies.
"It's been incredibly exciting for me to invest my time and resources into the launch of Chicago's WNBA team because I am strongly committed to bringing to Chicago what I believe will be far more than just a great sports franchise," said Alter. "Chicago's WNBA team will bring an exciting, new family entertainment alternative to this great city and its players can be a powerful and compelling source of inspiration for Chicago's young people - girls and boys alike - for many decades to come. Chicago deserves this team. And from a business perspective, I'm confident that our community's families and loyal sports fans will support it and embrace everything it represents."
Margaret Stender, who has previously held top positions at PepsiCo and Quaker Oats Company, will server as the team's President and Chief Executive Officer. Stender is also a minority owner of the new team.
"Everyone involved in the launch of this team is energized at the opportunity
to build a great Chicago sports team and we will keep the fans at the very center
of everything we do," said Stender. "This will truly be Chicago's
team and will reflect the best of both our city and women's basketball. We know
our basketball fans and families will rally to support the team and that the
players will become an integral part of our community."
The WNBA will feature 14 teams in 2006, with the Eastern and Western Conferences comprised of seven teams each. Chicago will join the Charlotte Sting, Connecticut Sun, Detroit Shock, Indiana Fever, New York Liberty and Washington Mystics in the Eastern Conference and the Houston Comets, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, Phoenix Mercury, San Antonio Silver Stars, Seattle Storm and Sacramento Monarchs will remain in the Western Conference.
The newest WNBA team will play its home games at the UIC Pavilion, located on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago, with a seating capacity of 7,500. The UIC Pavilion hosts numerous sporting events including UIC Flames Men's and Women's basketball games. The Pavilion is also a prime location for shows and concerts with some of the country's leading entertainers.
Season tickets for the Chicago WNBA team's 17 home games and two pre-season games will go on sale at 5:00 p.m. CST today (February 8, 2005). Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-877-329-WNBA or by clicking here.
In 2004, for the sixth consecutive season, more than 2 million fans attended WNBA games and three consecutive WNBA Finals sellout crowds - a league record - witnessed the Seattle Storm defeat the Connecticut Sun to capture its first WNBA Championship. The WNBA will tip off its ninth season Saturday, May 21, 2005 with a full slate of exciting match-ups, including ABC's broadcast of the defending WNBA champion Seattle Storm against reigning MVP Lisa Leslie and the Los Angeles Sparks at Key Arena beginning at 4 p.m. EST. Opening day will also pit the 2004 WNBA runner-up Connecticut Sun vs. the Detroit Shock at the Palace of Auburn Hills, the Houston Comets vs. the San Antonio Silver Stars at the SBC Center, the Phoenix Mercury against the Sacramento Monarchs at America West Arena and the Charlotte Sting hosting the Washington Mystics at the Charlotte Coliseum.