Charlotte Worthy of WNBA Return


We can all agree that expansion is needed in the WNBA with so many talented players not currently on rosters. Charlotte, where Dawn Staley played for most of her career, could be the right place to start. To be clear, there is nothing currently in the works as far as a team coming to Charlotte. The most likely location to get a team sooner than later seems to be the Bay Area. That said, there are a few reasons a team would work in Buzz City now better than back then.

What Went Wrong?

The Sting’s decline comes down to lack of marketing and promotion. In 2002, George Shinn sold the Charlotte Hornets to New Orleans which infuriated fans. He was also facing legal issues including being accused of kidnapping and assault. The NBA franchise then rebranded as the “Bobcats” in 2004, which never really caught on. Ticket sales were extremely low and fan interest dwindled. A string of losing seasons followed for the Bobcats. WNBA teams can survive without NBA counterparts – Seattle is a prime example – but in this case, the Sting could not. Bobcats Entertainment Group took over ownership of the Sting and did a poor job marketing them. To make matters worse, Staley was traded to the Houston Comets in 2005.

What Has Changed?

The WNBA has a lot more access to the games on media platforms across the board. Lamelo Ball being in town for the Hornets has brought in large group of new fans that previously paid less attention to the Hornets. They are receiving national media attention. The Hornets are a youthful team that are entertaining to watch, and there would be some good cross-promotion opportunities there. Perhaps more important is the fanbase that Staley has now formed as coach of the South Carolina women’s basketball team. Her success and appeal has created many new women’s basketball fans in the Carolinas. Their arena is regularly sold out, and those fans would flock to the new Sting, especially given that Staley spent most of her playing career there.

Charlotte is now a favorite to land an MLB expansion team in large part due to the youth(median age) and growth. This gained more traction recently as the Oakland Athletics are looking to relocate and Charlotte is a speculated location. Charlotte and the surrounding area is filled people and love sports and are open to new teams. The right ownership group that is passionate about women’s basketball would lead to success.

Nostalgia and a Look to the Future

In 2001, despite a horrific start to the season The Charlotte Sting went on magical run to the WNBA Finals. Having a franchise here before would be a way to immediately connect old fans to the new team. The pandemic has likely put more of a halt on possible expansion at the moment. It also makes it hard to gauge current possible attendance and market growth. Nonetheless, when the time comes, Commissioner Cathy Englebert should take a look at the Queen’s City as a possibility.

About Tiffany Stegall

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