This series will cover the WNBA’s 21st season with at least one story on the league weekly from the season’s May 13 opening to its closing on September 3 and through the 2017 playoffs.
Thousands of Saint Paul youth and families, many for the first time, got the chance to see the Minnesota Lynx this season. Visit Saint Paul, the Capitol City’s convention and visitors’ bureau, provided 8,000 free Lynx tickets — 500 for each game. Additionally, they offered meal vouchers and free transportation to and from the team’s 18 home games at the downtown St. Paul hockey arena this summer simply by registering at any of St. Paul’s 25 rec centers or doing so online.
With only five Lynx home regular season games remaining, including Friday’s Minnesota-Los Angeles matchup, “All tickets have been claimed,” Visit Saint Paul Membership Vice-President Jaimee Lucke Hendrikson told the MSR last week.
“I’m grateful. My kids are grateful,” declared Jewel H., a mother of seven — she and her children were at last Thursday’s Lynx win over Atlanta. “They love them,” Jewel told us of her kids’ first impressions of the Cities’ best pro team in action.
Without the ticket program they probably wouldn’t have been able to attend the games this summer, noted the mother, who lives near the Arlington Hills Rec Center on St. Paul’s East Side. They catch the bus there — it’s one of six center where buses leave for each game; Battle Creek, North Dale, Hancock, Palace and Oxford are the others. Schmitty and Sons Transportation provided the buses, said Hendrikson.
“I love seeing Sylvia [Fowles]. She’s my favorite player,” declared 13-year-old Deiagah, Jewel’s oldest daughter, of the veteran Lynx center.
“Everything went off without a hitch,” said Thresa Little, a community recreation specialist at Arlington Hills, on the program, which she assessed as a hit. “I am thankful that they chose us to be a part of this.”
Hendrikson called Little’s comment great feedback for the first-time partnership with the Lynx, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, and the City of St. Paul. She added that it hasn’t been decided if the partnership will continue when the Lynx return across the river next summer to the renovated Target Center.
“I hope they keep it going,” stressed Jewel. “It’s awesome. I would recommend it for anybody with kids.”
Little agreed: “I really hope we are able to continue this.”
The W makes video game history
With the WNBA now included with their fellow NBA mates in the new EA Sports’ NBA Live 18 video game available in September, does this finally mean that the longest pro women’s league in history makes the big league? EA Sports have NFL football, NHL hockey, PGA golf and UFC extreme boxing video games, but this is the first all-women video game from the longtime company.
“We are delighted to collaborate and make history with EA…to feature the WNBA’s full roster of teams and players,” said W President Lisa Borders last week in a press release statement.
In order to incorporate the league’s 12 teams and players, the NBA Live 18 video game did head scans of W stars such as the Lynx’s Fowles and Maya Moore; Brittany Griner, Tina Charles, Alisha Gray, Chelsea Gray, Jonquel Jones, Alyssa Thomas and Diana Taurasi. They also had motion capture sessions with players, and the game creators “fine-tuned player ratings and skill moves in order to present the league and its stars in the most authentic way possible,” according to the statement.
“I think it’s showing our growth as a WNBA team to be affiliated with something that they have had for years,” said Atlanta forward Tamera Young. Added teammate Tiffany Hayes, “It shows the involvement of the women’s game, and that’s really cool. It’s great.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.