Seimone Augustus wears a lot of hats as a sure-handed scorer and perennial winner boasting a trophy case filled with WNBA championship rings and Olympic gold medals.
But she’s also a promoter.
There is a chamber of commerce job in her future, if she wants it. In an ambassador-type role, Augustus has lobbied for a WNBA All-Star Game to come to Minneapolis.
“What better way to celebrate this team, this area that has embraced this team, than by having an All-Star Game here?” asked Augustus, who almost certainly will be chosen for her seventh All-Star team when reserves are announced Tuesday.
Turns out she and the Lynx are in complete agreement.
According to Glen Taylor, who owns both the Lynx and the NBA’s Timberwolves, the organization has submitted a formal bid to host the 2018 All-Star Game.
It is, according to Taylor, the perfect moment: The team is in the middle of a historic run, there’s an enthusiastic and dependable fan base that has followed the Lynx over to St. Paul this summer and the newly renovated, gleaming Target Center will be ready in three months.
“I think right now is the right time for us to do it,” Taylor said. “This is a team that is winning, with the great players we have. We have a new practice facility and the Target Center. Just everything. There is a lot to show off.”
Saturday in Seattle Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve and her entire staff will coach the Western Conference team that already includes Lynx center Sylvia Fowles and forward Maya Moore as starters. Augustus finished third among Western Conference guards in the voting.
And the general feeling is that it’s about time those All-Stars got to play a game at home.
“Look at the way our state has embraced us for all these years,” Lynx veteran Lindsay Whalen said. “How perfect would it be? The Target Center would be finished, all ready to go. That would work pretty well, don’t you think?”
The bidding process
Of course, it’s not a simple undertaking. The host organization provides the arena, the publicity and the staffing. It also plans and arranges events and entertainment. Both the Eastern and Western conference teams, coaches and league personnel have to be taken care of, put up in hotels and feted. There are logistics, expenses and intense planning. The franchise has to be a proven success in its local market, too.
Check to all the above.
From the start, Taylor has seen to it that the experience and talents of the organization’s business side are shared between the Wolves and the Lynx. Ditto for the game operations staff.
And fan base?
How many teams can move to a new arena in a new city for a year and increase attendance? The Lynx have, so far. In 2016 at Target Center, Minnesota was fourth in the league in attendance, averaging 9,266. Through Sunday at Xcel Energy Center, the 2017 Lynx were third in the league (9,375), trailing only Los Angeles (9,576) and Phoenix (9,496). The Lynx firmly believe they will bring some fans back with them to Target Center next year, while reacquiring some west metro fans who are sitting out this season, potentially growing the fan base even more.
Reeve said this preseason the franchise could benefit financially and in long-term fan support from the game being here. Put all that together, and those within the Lynx organization believe it would be one of the best All-Star experiences in the history of the league.
Other cities want in, too
Now the Lynx will await the league’s decision, which could come at any time between this year’s All Star break and the fall. Neither the team nor the league will discuss how many teams have bid for the 2018 game.
The game would bolster an already full lineup of major sporting events in the Twin Cities in 2018. That starts with the Super Bowl in February, followed by the women’s and men’s NCAA Frozen Four and the NCAA volleyball Final Four. The men’s basketball Final Four is in 2019.
“I think Minneapolis is ready,” Moore said of the WNBA All-Star Game. “It is ready to host this game. Obviously, we’ve been doing what we’re doing for the last seven seasons. It just makes sense to bring this game to Minny. It would be fun. And people: It’s beautiful here in the summer.”
You don’t have to tell Augustus that. She’s been saying that for years.
“Let’s get these wheels rolling,” she said.