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S: One question that somebody on our forum had a while back when we were talking about the ownership change. If somebody wanted to buy just the Storm, how much would the team go for? Is there anyway of figuring that out?

K: There isn’t actually right now. Right now, the franchises aren’t valued so to speak. Owners pay an operating fee to get the license from the league, if you will, to operate a team. But everything is centralized. It’s not run like a typical professional sports organization. The league owns the teams. The owners don’t actually own the teams. They pay an operating fee to operate the teams. But it is different, so there is no asset value, franchise value, if you will, like you’d have for the Sonics. It’s structured financially very different.

S: So, when the Basketball Club of Seattle bought the Sonics, they bought the license…

K: They bought the operating rights for the Storm.

S: Now in a similar vein, with player contracts, the Storm does not necessarily own the player contracts, the league does.

K: No we don’t whatsoever. We don’t negotiate them. We don’t own them. We don’t pay them. We don’t fulfill them. We have no involvement whatsoever in player contracts or player negotiations.

S: So, when a decision is made to sign or invite a player to training camp or cut somebody or trade somebody, if you guys don’t actually own the contract, does it have to go through the league?

K: Yes, it does.

S: There was an article awhile back that the contract negotiations are going to start soon and I really don’t want to get into all of that, but do you foresee a time when that arrangement would change to where the contracts would go to the management of the teams and not necessarily through the league.

K: I don’t see that happening in the near future. I don’t see it happening in the upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiation. Will it happen at some point beyond that? Possibly. And the most important thing is that the league needs to get to a point where it’s financially stable. We look forward to an opportunity to talk to the players about how we can address some of their concerns and hopefully reach a compromise that we can both live with that doesn’t compromise the financial stability of the league.

S: So, eventually, down the road, will we, maybe I don’t know how long down the road, see some of the kind of mega contracts that Kevin Garnett or Shaquille O’Neal or some of these guys in the NBA have gotten? Multimillion, multiyear kind of contracts?

K: I don’t see that happening in the near future. I mean those contracts are commensurate with the kinds of revenue that those teams bring in. It’ll be a very interesting discussion. In defense of the players they have never, as a group, been given financial information about the league. The league has always been reluctant to share that, but as they enter into this negotiation, I think it is going to be very important to the players. Before the players express their concerns, their priorities, what it is they really want the league to consider in terms of compensation and supplementing their current agreement, they really need to understand what the financial picture looks like. As well as the league’s long term plan for financial stability. And ultimately, I think we all remain optimistic that we will reach a compromise. I’m the first one to say that I look forward to the day that this league is financial successful enough to offer these women the kinds of salaries so that they don’t have to go overseas to supplement their income.

S: Just have a couple of questions about the league and then I have a couple of other to finish off. League President, Val Ackerman, has said a couple of times that expansion is not planned for the near future; relocation may occur though, and we’ve heard that in San Antonio and Chicago there are groups that are very interested in acquiring teams. Do you have any info on if some relocations are planned?

K: Well, given that the fifth season is not even over yet, I know that it’s something that’s been talked about at the league office, but we won’t be hearing anything at the team level until we go back for league meetings in November.

S: Well, completely off the question I just asked, but I have to say that as a pretty diehard WNBA fan, the games in the playoffs have been amazing.

K: Yeah, they’ve been awesome games.

S: I’ve got a couple of friends that are big time NBA fans who haven’t really paid any attention and I’ve said you’ve got to watch these games and they did and they’ve been amazed.

K: Yeah, the playoffs have been great.

S: They have been great. So, we all have our suspicions on whose going to end up winning the championship and who we don’t want to win the championship. [Karen laughs] Who do you like right now?

K: I think Sacramento is going to win.

S: Do you really?

K: Yep.

S: I think if anybody’s got a chance to beat the Sparks, it’s them.

K: I think Sacramento is playing extremely well right now and they are getting good bench play. Yolanda has elevated her game to another level, as has Lisa. But I think you can get inside LA’s head and I think Sacramento is a more mature team and I think they are hungry and I think LA is prime for an upset.

S: So, I’ve got just a couple more final questions for you personally. You’ve been with basketball on the collegiate, professional on all kinds of levels. How have things changed since you were a player at the UW?

K: Well, certainly the athleticism and the size of the athletes both in height and in their physicalness is a big difference that I notice. I think that the evolution of women’s sports at the collegiate level has really afforded more resources for the college athletes – everything from strength and conditioning programs to offseason training programs to facilities – all of that has just elevated the level of play and the level of talent at the collegiate level. I think the exposure is a hundredfold what it was ten years ago when I played. The fact that all of the NCAA games, the tournament games were televised on t.v. The fact that regular season and preseason games are televised now. That’s just a world of difference from when I played ten years ago. So the sport is just growing exponentially and that’s what’s so exciting about being involved in the WNBA. Basketball is not only the number one participation sport, but women’s college basketball is one of the fastest growing spectator sports in the county. And you know we as a professional league have to figure out how we capitalize on that and keep those fans excited about the highest level of basketball once that college season is over and rolls right into the WNBA season. You basically have elite women’s basketball year round now.

S: What are your personal basketball goals? Are you thinking of coaching down the line or being an owner?

K: My experience with the ABL and the WNBA in the last five years has been a dream opportunity for me. In terms of a business career and challenge, I couldn’t think of a better opportunity. It’s extremely challenging and it’s obviously something I’m very passionate about helping succeed. I also enjoy the on the court action and eventually would love to get into the coaching side of the business. There’s certainly not a playing career in sight [laughs].

S: What has been your best basketball moment?

K: Well, I’d have to say that it’s probably an easy one. It goes way, way, way back to 1984, but I’d have to say my number one basketball memory was winning the state championship.

S: In high school?

K: 1984. Yeah, high school state championship.

S: What high school did you play for?

K: Woodway.

S: Here in Washington?

K: In Edmonds.

S: Oh, wow. I didn’t know that. When do you see a WNBA championship here in Seattle?

K: Oh boy.

S: On the report for the last game, I describe how that before the season, Angie asked me what my predictions were for how the team would finish. So I gave her a predication and she wasn’t too happy with it. And so she’s like you’re just being pessimistic. And I went forward and said that about season 5 IÍm thinking we’re going to have a championship.

K: I’m going to say within the first five years – or by year five. I’d say year four or five.

S: Good. Well, I’m glad that my thinking is good. And last question, what message would you like to give to the fans as we leave the second season and get into the third?

K: Well, first of all, a huge thank you. I think we sound like a broken record saying that we think the Storm fans are the greatest in the league but I just continue to be empowered and motivated by the commitment of our fans. The loyalty, the sense of enthusiasm, the sense of willingness to help really keeps us motivated because it reminds us on a daily basis how special this product really is and how strong the connection between a fan and a professional athlete can really be. I would also say keep it up and we need you to continue to support us, we need you to continue to help us think of creative ways to brand our players and brand our team. Every night this summer all of us looked forward to going to KeyArena because we knew, win or lose, that it was going to be a great opportunity for us to see, thank and engage with our fans. We also knew we could connect our players with our fans and really continue to build toward something great. I think we are on a great ride and I think that the Storm’s third season is going to be the best one so far.

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