Because the founding president of the WNBA, Val Ackerman is thrilled with the course of the league: skyrocketing TV ranking, which have been the league’s finest in 21 years; new highs throughout digital platforms, social media engagement and sports activities betting; rising attendance that was up 16 % this yr from final.
The WNBA is in an amazing place, which is why Ackerman believes the time is correct to extend its attain.
“I believe the league is now ripe for growth,” Ackerman, the Massive East commissioner, informed The Publish in a telephone interview. “It’s important to discover the correct markets and the correct traders, who’ve the lengthy view. They’re not trying to generate income immediately, however they imagine there’s an asset right here that they will nurture and develop.”
The WNBA is predicted to maneuver from 12 to 14 groups by 2025.
A Bay Space crew can be added, together with one other yet-to-be-announced franchise.
Ackerman believes that is the correct course to be entering into and thinks the league might go to as many as 16 groups, granted the correct possession is in place that may make it work.
That’s crucial side of this.
The WNBA had 16 groups in 2000 however has been at 12 because the Sacramento Monarchs folded in 2009.
As just lately as 2008, it was at 14 groups.
“We have been by no means in a position to get into the Bay Space. I’m thrilled they’ve lastly been in a position to crack that nut and get a crew and a market that, I believe, can be very receptive for girls’s basketball,” Ackerman stated.
Girls’s basketball has been producing extra curiosity of late, and it might solely be getting higher, with various high-profile faculty gamers, corresponding to Caitlin Clark of Iowa, Angel Reese of LSU and Paige Bueckers and Azzi Fudd of Connecticut, set to show professional within the coming years.
“The participant pool can definitely assist [expansion],” stated Ackerman, a member of each the Girls’s Basketball Corridor of Fame and Naismith Basketball Corridor of Fame. “After we expanded early, I’m unsure that we had actually the depth of the pool of gamers to assist rising to 16 groups. … The participant pool is extra strong now.”
One factor that by no means fairly translated when it got here to the WNBA was the recognition of ladies’s faculty basketball, particularly the NCAA Event.
Which may be altering, although, particularly as gamers construct up their manufacturers by way of their Identify, Picture & Likeness.
And in contrast to the boys’s recreation, the place gamers depart early for the NBA, ladies faculty basketball gamers have to be no less than 22 years of age, have accomplished their faculty eligibility, have graduated from a four-year faculty or be 4 years faraway from highschool.
“It does permit these younger ladies to grow to be family names, within the case of Caitlin Clark, in faculty,” Ackerman stated.
That is an thrilling time for Ackerman, as the brand new faculty basketball season nears and the Massive East enters the season loaded after considered one of its groups, UConn, received all of it a yr in the past.
She may also be one of many honorees on the The Buoniconti Fund’s thirty eighth annual Nice Sports activities Legends Dinner on Monday on the Marriott Marquis in Midtown.
Different sports activities luminaries embody Michael Strahan, Missy Franklin, Jim Furyk, Zdeno Chara and Jim Thome.
The occasion raises cash for spinal twine and mind harm and neurological illness analysis being performed by researchers at The Miami Mission to Remedy Paralysis.
The Buoniconti Fund was established by the household in 1992 after Marc Buoniconti was paralyzed from the shoulders down throughout a school soccer recreation with The Citadel.
Father Nick, a two-time Tremendous Bowl winner with the Dolphins who handed away in 2019, cofounded The Miami Mission to assist these like his son cope with spinal twine accidents.
“Very honored, in fact,” Ackerman stated. “To go in with different dignitaries like Michael Strahan and Missy Franklin and others, it’s going to be a extremely thrilling occasion, most likely emotional.”
- Ex-WNBA president Val Ackerman thinks league is ‘ripe for growth’
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