This column is dedicated throughout the month of July to a discussion of the good, bad and everything else in women’s basketball in general and the WNBA in particular. We will talk to coaches, players, fans, and current and former bigwigs for their input, and will share their thoughts throughout this discussion series.
The WNBA All-Star Games have been staged both east and west. In 2015 they will be held again in Uncasville, Connecticut, between the moon and New York City, for the fourth time, the most in one place in league history.
The annual midseason game has been in New York thrice (1999, 2003, 2006), twice in Washington (2002, 2007) and Phoenix (2000, 2014) and once each in Orlando (2001) and San Antonio (2011). It has yet to reach the Midwest.
After expansion, the second most-asked question to League President Laurel Richie is when, if ever, the All-Star Game will come to the Midwest.
“Figuring out where we are going to do All-Star Games is pretty complex,” explains Madame President. “You got to pick the date, make sure it is in the [ESPN-ABC] broadcast window. Is the arena available? Does the city have the capacity?”
Unlike the league playoffs, the host city and the team are partly responsible for the event, which can be costly. Another reason why the game is in Connecticut so many times, I’m afraid, is that ESPN, which is headquartered in Bristol, don’t have to pack up their broadcast digs and travel very far.
It’s roughly 50 miles between Bristol and Uncasville — an hour’s drive for their trucks, or just a few toll booths away in New York City. Packing all that stuff and flying is kind of costly, since you can take only one carry-on free on planes these days.
The Mohegan Sun Arena, this year’s site, is all right if you like casinos, which I don’t. There are no outside entrances, so you have to maneuver through the dimly lighted place and dodge the folk looking for the next craps table to get to the inside arena doors. If you go the other way, there is a mall where you can maneuver through the non-gambling shoppers to finally get to the game, which again is all right if you like malls, which I don’t.
Thank God it’s only once every two years I have to go there. It would be painful if I had to walk the game-day casino-to-arena gauntlet more often than that.
The three times I’ve been to Gotham City for two All-Star Games and a 2010 WNBA-USA exhibition game were travel nightmares. The two times to D.C. were a parking headache. Phoenix was nice and hot, which wasn’t a problem for a reporter who hates cold. Last July we were able to take in an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game as well.
I like covering WNBA All-Star Games, and hopefully this Saturday’s will keep intact its enjoyable contest streak. Lynx Forward Maya Moore and Guard Seimone Augustus last week were voted West All-Star starters.
Augustus is unable to play due to knee surgery, so Richie will select her replacement. Lindsay Whalen could be named as a reserve. Announcements had not been made at press time.
As for the Twin Cities hosting the W All-Star Game, it won’t come any time before the downtown arena renovations are completed in a couple of years or so. Then what about Chicago or Indianapolis?
“The good news is our teams across the country expressed interest [in a Midwest All-Star Game],” concludes Richie. “I am confident that sooner or later the arena and the hotels will be available. The broadcast window will be available, and I believe we will have an All-Star Game in the Midwest.”
This just in: On July 20, Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx and Tina Charles of the New York Liberty were named the WNBA’s Western and Eastern Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played July 13 through July 19.
Note – As the only Minnesota media present, the MSR once again will provide exclusive WNBA All-Star coverage for the 11th time and ninth consecutive summer. Read our “Only One’s All-Star dispatches from CT” on the MSR website.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.