By Chris Wright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Is there enough interest in women's basketball in Tulsa to support a franchise in Tulsa?
Woman's basketball is not exactly a big draw in Green Country, but those pushing for the WNBA hope bringing a professional team would change that.
If the WNBA decides to tip off in Tulsa, officials in favor of the franchise say fans will flock to the BOK Center.
"It means having 5 to 6 to 7, 8,000 fans in that arena and in downtown, 17 or so times a year. It's a boost to local restaurants, to local small businesses; it's a boon to our continued downtown development," according to a WNBA video.
But is drawing between 6,000 and 8,000 fans a game realistic?
Attendance at woman's college games in Tulsa was sparse this past season. ORU averaged more than 1,600 fans for home games, compared to 1,100 for TU.
"Woman's basketball, we've struggled a little bit with attendance trying to find that niche," said Don Tomkalski, TU Media Relations.
TU officials admit attendance has dipped the past few seasons at woman's games, but point out that the Golden Hurricane competes for fans with ORU, as well as OU and OSU.
On the other hand, the WNBA season lasts from May until September, a period when no other basketball teams are in action.
"It's an opportunity for fans to enjoy something that this time of year there's not much going on in the City of Tulsa," said Don Tomkalski.
And if the WNBA experiment is successful and generates more interest in woman's basketball, TU believes it will translate to more fans in its stands.
"If they're able to sell, get a lot of attendance, get a lot of people at their games, hopefully us and Oral Roberts can take advantage of that," said Don Tomkalski.
In comparison, the Tulsa 66ers, the only professional men's team in town, averaged just 2,500 fans per game last season.