WNBA commissioner Laurel Richie, who makes a trip to every league city each season, was in town for Friday’s game between the Lynx and San Antonio at Target Center. Days removed from a successful All-Star Game in Connecticut, here is what Richie had to say on a number of issues while meeting with the media pre-game:
--On the success of the All-Star Game: “Today I got numbers in that our viewership on ABC was up (about five percent),” Richie said. “So it’s always nice. Not only does it feel good in the arena, but our business metrics are heading in the right direction.”
--On whether the All-Star Game could go to different cities; only six cities have ever hosted the game: “Every year there is a serious discussion (about it),” she said. “There is a formal process we follow where teams submit bids.”
The bids are evaluated with league requirements for both the hosting team and hosting city. Richie said typically about half of the league’s teams submit bids.
--Richie said that league-wide attendance is slightly up at the mid-point of the season. But viewership on ESPN2 and NBA-TV are up by double digits.
--On league expansion? Richie is asked this a lot. And, again, she was vague on the subject. While she said that more teams will be make an operating profit this year than a year ago (she didn’t give specifics), she said that any decision on expansion would have to come after evaluating the talent coming into the league, where all 12 teams are at that point, and the ability of any new franchise to operate effectively.
--She was asked about a pre-season survey of league general managers, who picked Phoenix to finish first in the Western Conference, followed by Los Angeles and Minnesota. The Lynx have the league’s best record (14-3) at mid-season. “Maybe there were some bright, shiny toys in the window that got people excited,” she said, referring, perhaps, to highly-touted rookies like Skylar Diggins and Brittney Griner. “But I can’t imagine anyone affiliated with the WNBA considering the Lynx an afterthought.”
--Richie said there will be a discussion post-season about the possibility of growing the size of teams’ rosters. Currently that number is at 11, which makes it difficult for some teams to weather injuries. “That discussion always balances roster size and the realities of our business,” she said. “I suspect that is a conversation that will continue.''
Here is one pre-game note: Rookie Rachel Jarry, who has a sprained right ankle sustained in practice this week, will not dress for the game.