If you live in Atlanta and love women’s basketball, it’s now official: You have your own WNBA team on the way.
Ron Terwilliger, CEO of Trammell Crow Residential, one of the nation’s largest developers of apartments and condominiums, is the principal owner of the new franchise in that city. WNBA president Donna Orender was with Terwilliger recently, when the official announcement was made.
“As a great sports town and a region that enthusiastically supports women’s athletics, Atlanta is a terrific destination for the WNBA,” Orender said. “I commend Ron Terwilliger for his efforts in bringing the WNBA to Atlanta and know the league will benefit from his superior leadership skills, business acumen, and commitment to the community.”
The move signals expansion for the WNBA. Like the Chicago Sky, which began play this year, the Atlanta club is a brand new team — unlike the Connecticut Sun, for example, which was originally the now-defunct Miami Sol.
Atlanta will begin play in the 2008 season, and Terwilliger deserves a pat on the back for the quick turnaround time on his idea to bring women’s pro hoops down South. Currently, there are only two teams in the South, both in Texas: the San Antonio Silver Stars and Houston Comets.
The WNBA will consist of 14 teams next season, with seven teams each in the Eastern and Western Conferences.
The league, at which naysayers scoffed amid claims it would never last, appears to be doing quite well, thank you. Last year, in its 11th season, it enjoyed increased regular-season attendance, and set a new postseason attendance record. In addition, viewership of the league finals on ESPN2 was up 12 percent from the previous year.
A name for the new Atlanta team is still being determined, as its geographical moniker (Atlanta or Georgia?).
“Everyone has been telling me that we should call (the team) the Georgia Peaches. It’s kind of neat, but it’s not exactly a forceful name,” Terwilliger said. “It doesn’t exactly inspire fear, does it? Yes, the Georgia Peaches are sure going to terrify their opponents!”
Even if the name is as lame as the Sky (can anyone explain that?), there are sure to be many grateful Georgia hoops fans turning out to support their team. Terwilliger is banking on it.
“I’m excited to give Atlanta the opportunity to have women’s professional basketball, and I’m excited to give young women the opportunity to play professional basketball in Atlanta. And I’m counting on the Atlanta community to support this effort. We’ll do the best we can to entertain and make this sport available to them. I can’t wait for opening day.”
Nor can I. You go, boy!