WNBA Franchise Charlotte Sting Folds
Wednesday, January 3, 2007; 4:27 PM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The WNBA's Charlotte Sting folded Wednesday, three weeks after the Bobcats gave up control of the team.
The WNBA was unsuccessful in finding a buyer for the Sting, one of the original eight franchises.
"It was driven by economics, certainly not philosophy," said Greg Economou, the Bobcats' chief marketing officer. "We believe in the women's game. If it could work here we'd be all for it. The situation we're in is trying to build the Bobcats' brand. It was difficult to absorb losing as much money as we were on the Sting side to continue."
The Sting were owned and operated by the Charlotte Hornets when the WNBA formed in 1997. The Sting stayed in Charlotte when the Hornets moved to New Orleans in 2002, and Bob Johnson took control of the team when he was awarded the Bobcats' expansion franchise in 2004.
The Sting struggled to draw fans in recent years and their move to the downtown Charlotte Bobcats Arena last season didn't help. They averaged 5,783 fans in 17 home games in 2006, which ranked 13th out of 14 teams in the league.
The franchise also struggled on the court. The Sting reached the WNBA finals in 2001, but made the playoffs only once since and were 17-51 in the past two seasons. Former Hornets star Muggsy Bogues coached the team for its final season and a half after Trudi Lacey gave up the coaching duties to focus on her general manager role.
Losing the Sting leaves the WNBA, set to begin its 11th season in May, with 13 teams.
Players from the Sting, including Monique Currie and Tangela Smith, are expected to be awarded to other teams in a dispersal draft.
"It's sad to see them go," Economou said. "They meant a lot to the people of the city, but at the same token, not enough people."