Wnba Team Agrees To City's Rent Terms, Awaits League's OK
Seattle Times Staff Reporter
Seattle's unnamed WNBA team has agreed to the City Council's increased-cost lease agreement and is waiting for the league to decide its franchise status, said Karen Bryant, the team's senior director of operations.
The City Council voted 9-0 Monday to add a minimum of $60,000 to the team's three-year lease to play at KeyArena starting in May 2000. The team will have to pay $100,000 up front each year and the city will refund $5,000 for each of the 16 home games played, not to exceed $80,000.
Council President Sue Donaldson headed the proposed amendment, saying the city had to protect itself from The Ackerley Group that operates the WNBA and Sonic teams under Full House Sports & Entertainment. The city lost $2.7 million because of the NBA lockout last season and received $34,000 after arbitration about terms regarding the missed games.
But despite the bitterness between the Ackerleys and the city, Bryant said yesterday that Ginger Ackerley, chair for the WNBA team, recommitted herself to bringing women's professional basketball to Seattle. The lease agreement was signed and sent to the league for approval.
"I have no indication what the league's position would be," Bryant said.
She said the lease "is unprecedented, unfair and unethical, but we're going to sell the league that Seattle is where they want to put a WNBA franchise."
WNBA officials in New York couldn't be reached for comment, but Mark Pray, the league's media-relations director, said Monday that any changes would be reviewed. A decision should be reached by Friday, the deadline for the four expansion teams to meet the requirements for receiving a team.
Only Indiana and Portland have secured expansion teams. They will play in the Eastern and Western conferences, respectively. Miami needs to sell about 700 season tickets in three days to satisfy league requirements.
Seattle's season-ticket pledge total was at 6,300 yesterday.
"The phones are ringing off the hook," Bryant said. "Despite everything, fans are showing their support and continue to buy tickets."
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