7 Years Strong!

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On this day in 2005, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the city of Chicago would be awarded a WNBA franchise for the 2006 season! WNBA Chicago, as the team was temporarily named, became just the second franchise to be owned and operated as a separate entity from an NBA franchise.

“Chicago is the perfect place for us,” Stern said.

Chicago businessman, Michael Alter and local investors serving as minority owners were behind the movement to bring Chicago its own WNBA team. Alter is the President of the Alter Group, one of the nations leading commercial real estate firms. Alter said, in 2005, that he wanted to bring Chicago a new source of family entertainment and inspiration for Chicago’s young people.

“For me, it was like meeting Ernie Banks or Bill Russell in their prime. I was so impressed, not only by the WNBA players’ prowess as athletes but their intelligence, their passion, their dignity and their power to inspire,” Alter said. “After meeting these amazing women and learning more about the WNBA, it did not make sense to me that the third largest city in the country, and frankly, in my opinion, the best sports town in the country, did not have a WNBA team.”

The team initially found a home at the UIC Pavilion. However, they still needed a name that would fit the city of Chicago. Three criteria were laid out for the name. It must be distinctly Chicago, it must be inspirational and encouraging, and it must be high energy representing the style and substance that the team would live by on and off the court. The “Sky” was a perfect fit. The Chicago skyline, with its awe-inspiring buildings reaching for the sky, is part of what makes Chicago the city it is. Team President and CEO Margaret Stender claimed the team colors of yellow and blue represent "a beautiful day in Chicago between the blue sky and bright sunlight to highlight the spectacular skyline."

Since that inaugural season a lot has changed for the Sky. Now, in 2012, seven years later, there are six independently owned teams in the WNBA. The Sky has relocated to a new home at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. Four different head coaches have led the team and a number of young players have developed in Chicago Sky uniforms, and yes, even the uniforms have changed. What hasn’t changed since 2005 is the Sky’s goal of a WNBA Championship. 2012 marks a new year for the organization and under the tutelage of second-year Head Coach & GM Pokey Chatman, and led on court by the reigning WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, Sylvia Fowles, and a combination of newly signed veteran players like Swin Cash and Ruth Riley (who was at the Sky’s 2005 announcement ceremony), that goal is becoming a reality.