The Gwinnett Daily Post writes an article about Toby Wyman, the new Chief Operating Officer of the Atlanta Dream. I'm glad to see that the Gwinnett paper is writing about the Dream; the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's treatment of the Dream is either neglect (in the print edition) or abuse (in the blog sections).
Whether the Gwinett paper will cover more Dream stories remains to be seen. The author is Christine Troyke, I think you should send a comment if you were glad to read the article. It looks like some Georgia paper might end up leading the pack on Dream coverage; the sad story is that the leader in Dream coverage might not be Georgia's supposed flagship paper.
Other than that, the treatment of Wyman's career is interesting.
They ask him what the #1 goal of the Dream is, and it is not "to win games". It is this:
"I think what we want to do is, No. 1, it’s like anything else, we want to be a viable, successful franchise that is relevant in this marketplace. Which means putting people in the seats every night."
I like the phrase "to be relevant". The Number One goal of any franchise is survival, and in order to survive you have to be relevant enough to get the turnstiles turning. You have to be on the map in the local scene, and this is very difficult in the college-football crazy South.
Over the off-season, I've watched Kathy Betty try to sell the team seemingly to one person at a time - appearing pretty much anywhere she can get the word out. You have to admire the effort, but at times I feel a little embarrassed. In my mind's eye, I see Betty appearing in front of sparse crowds anywhere she can hang her shingle, trying to convince potential fans and trying to drum up interest. Can you build a fan base that way? Yes...but is that method the best use of your time and money?
Wyman speaks about what I call the pro paradigm. It's the belief that the WNBA must promote itself like any dull NBA game. Troyke asks Wyman if a better model for the WNBA wouldn't be something like Triple-A baseball:
"But, yes, absolutely, from an accessibility standpoint, from and entertainment standpoint, one of our goals is we need to broaden ourselves out a bit. Certainly we’re a women’s product, but at the end of the day we just want to be perceived as good, sports, family entertainment.
That means we’re also committed to winning on the court. We want to win championships. But certainly we want people to feel like it’s a great entertainment product and, just like anything else, enjoy themselves and keep coming back."
Troyke then addresses the canard advocated by some that summer basketball is a bad idea because people would rather be outdoors. She writes, "People think of summer being meant for outdoors, but frankly, it’s too dang hot here most of the time — I’d like to be in an air-conditioned arena, you know?" I have to concur there - that argument might play out in Chicago or Seattle, but it's too damn hot in the South during the summer.
An illuminating question Troyke asks is whether or not the Dream should just tank in 2010 to pick up Maya Moore.
CT: "So you’re not going to try to lose all your games so you can draft Maya (Moore) in a year?"
TW: "No (smiling). Being from Boston, Red Auerbach drafted Larry Bird a year early. They closed that loophole and that was my first question to our GM, has the WNBA closed that same loophole?"
I suspect that Wyman might know what he's doing on the business end. Whether he'll have input on the pro acquisition end remains to be seen - it appears that Marynell Meadors will continue to wear the dual hats of GM and coach.
However, the more I look at Wyman the more I like what I see.