WNBA President Donna Orender, smiling at the podium, and Force 10 Hoops, who have purchased the Seattle Storm franchise. Everybody’s happy!
Four women, season-ticket holders, calling themselves Force 10 Hoops, have cut a deal with the owner of the Seattle Storm WNBA basketball team to buy the franchise and keep the Storm in Seattle! Previous franchise owner Clay Bennett had announced he would be selling both the Seattle Sonics NBA team and the Seattle Storm after basically throwing down with the City of Seattle and saying if the Key Arena wasn’t renovated, the teams were gone. Clay Bennett: not a popular person in Seattle. But the four women above stepped up and paid $10 million to keep the Storm in Seattle. They are Anne Levinson, former Seattle deputy mayor, Lisa Brummel, Microsoft senior vice president for human resources, Ginny Gilder, who owns an investment business, and Dawn Trudeau, a former Microsoft employee who now works for nonprofit groups. This keeps the Storm in town and led by women!
The Seattle Storm has been the nation’s (and the world’s, probably) first and only woman-only professional basketball team. Until this year it has had a woman coach, both the assistant coaches were women, and the COO has been a woman, as well. In 2004, the Storm won Seattle its first pro title in 25 years. The Key Arena was sold out for all three games. The Storm continues to have a loyal and committed fan base which has purchased season tickets consistently, even though the future of the Storm and whether it would stay in Seattle has been uncertain.
Storm Coach Anne Donovan resigned as head coach just this past November, and the new coach will be Brian Agler; it’s disappointing not to continue the all-women tradition. Since the 2004 win, the Storm’s performance has been lackluster. News that the team would be sold to Oklahoma investors was demoralizing. As of now, Seattle has just three players under contract for next season, with star guard Sue Bird set to leave as a free agent, so there are some uncertainties.
Nevertheless, these are all women making history. I remember when everybody laughed at women’s and girls’ sports and the idea or suggestion of women’s professional sports was unheard of, drawing snorts of derision and contempt. I remember when there weren’t girls’ sports teams at all, other than intramural sports and the occasional neighborhood softball team. It’s a whole new world.