Independent Ownership Group led by Chicago Real Estate Developer
Invests in the WNBA's 14th team
CHICAGO, February 8 -- NBA Commissioner David Stern announced today that the city of Chicago has been awarded a WNBA team for the 2006 season. The new team will be primarily owned and operated by Chicago businessman Michael Alter, with a select group of local investors serving as minority owners.
"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. "With its independent ownership, the Chicago team continues to build upon the WNBA's model for the future."
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 10 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. Alter is also active in the Chicago community, most prominently as the founder of City Year Chicago, an innovative national service program for 17-24 year olds.
"I'm incredibly excited to be a part of the launch of Chicago's WNBA team," said Alter. "The team will bring an exciting, new family entertainment alternative to this great city and our players will be a powerful and compelling source of inspiration for Chicago's young people - girls and boys alike. Chicago is a great sports town and deserves a WNBA team. And from a business perspective, I'm confident that with the support of our community's families and loyal sports fans, we will build a solid business that will greatly appreciate in value over time."
Margaret Stender, who has previously held top positions at PepsiCo and Quaker Oats Company, will serve 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 franchise 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 5:00p.m. CST today (February 8, 2005). Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-877-329 WNBA or on-line at the team's website www.chicagownba.com.
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. EDT.
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. For more information pease visit www.wnba.com.