CLIFF BRUNT, AP Sports Writer
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Tulsa Shock majority owner Bill Cameron announced plans Monday to move the WNBA franchise to the Dallas-Fort Worth market.
Cameron said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that he hoped the WNBA Board of Governors would vote as soon as possible on the relocation, though the team will finish this season in Tulsa. He said he was proud of the effort from community since the team moved from Detroit before the 2010 season.
“This is a very difficult decision, and I know it is particularly difficult for the Tulsa investors,” Cameron said. “From a business perspective, it was necessary to evaluate options to place the team and the organization in the best position to achieve financial success. After a thorough review, I believe the Dallas-Fort Worth area holds the greatest potential to achieve our long-term business objectives.”
Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett had sent letters to Cameron and the league telling them he’d hoped the team would stay. A group called Save Our Shock handed out 800 t-shirts on Sunday before the team’s loss to the Minnesota Lynx.
The Shock have struggled since moving from Detroit. Most of the players from the powerhouse teams that won three WNBA titles didn’t move with the team, and the Shock went 6-28 its first year in Tulsa. In year two, the team went 3-31. The Shock went 9-25 in 2012, 11-23 in 2013 and 12-22 in 2014.
The on-court struggles were reflected at the gate. According to the Sports Business Journal, attendance has been last in the league the past four years.
This year’s team, the second under coach Fred Williams, has been the best yet, both in record and in attendance.
The Shock started the season with an 8-1 record before Skylar Diggins, the top vote-getter in the All-Star balloting, was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Tulsa won its first six home games before losing to the league-leading Lynx. Attendance Sunday was 5,987, one of the best turnouts yet, and the current average of 5,776 fans is the team’s highest since arriving in Tulsa.
Those who wanted the team to stay pointed out that Tulsa is by far the league’s smallest market, and they wanted the owners to give it a chance while the team was winning.
“I am proud of the team and the organization, and know they will stay focused on making this a winning season,” said Cameron who thanked fans and local officials as well as “the Tulsa investors who stepped up at a critical time” to help bring the Shock from Detroit.
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