Sparks Watch Day 14: Can smaller ownership work long term in the WNBA's larger markets?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

On this latest edition of Sparks Watch, we'll take a step away from the Sparks and the Golden State Warriors specifically and throw out an open question. Can smaller ownership groups work long term in the WNBA?

To me, I don't think that smaller ownership groups can work in the WNBA long term, in particular for the larger market cities, like Los Angeles.

1. Large markets have large fixed costs, which ultimately require richer owners who can pay them if teams are not profitable.

The main reason why I just don't see smaller ownership working long term in large markets is because of the fixed costs to run a team. James has a conservative budget in Day 7 of the series. The costs of renting an arena for a number of games per year is already going to be high, but Los Angeles real estate prices will cost more than most other markets in the United States, so player housing, which is an expense that WNBA teams have to offer players, at least per the last collective bargaining agreement, is going to be higher than other teams as well. Then leasing office space for team employees, like ticket salesmen and administrative staff will cost more on a square foot basis as well.

2. Smaller ownership groups will have a harder time getting sponsorship money.

The second reason why I don't see smaller ownership working long term is due to local sponsorship money. Do these teams have the brand to attract major dollars? Because larger market teams generally have larger fixed costs, they also will need more sponsorship dollars to fill up the void.

Meanwhile, national WNBA sponsorships, like ESPN's and Boost Mobile's will likely be given to each WNBA team proportionately. So when the Sparks lost their Farmers marquee sponsorship in 2013, that could have been what set them over the edge given that these deals are at around $1 million a year. Then, since the owners of these teams aren't Big Four League team owners, they can't affiliate themselves with those teams, where getting sponsorships is easier.

In closing

This post isn't too long, and there are going to be some days when we don't have 1,500 word pieces to give. I just don't see small ownership working in large markets long term. But now it's your turn. Do you think such groups can work in the league? Or do you agree with me? Speak in the comments below!

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