ARLINGTON, TX -- Today is a historical and ground-breaking day. The WNBA officially announced the relocation and team name of what was formally known as the Tulsa Shock to now the Dallas Wings. The new team logo featuring the Pegasus has been an icon in the Dallas-Forth Worth metroplex for decades and will now be the face of the Wings.
This move is HUGE! The new team will play and hopefully sell out tickets in the College Park Arena at UTA in Arlington, Texas.
Not only will the Dallas Wings rub elbows with other professional teams like the Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Cowboys, and the Texas Rangers but young men and especially young women now have a WNBA team in a major market like Dallas at their fingertips. The last time there was a professional women's team in the DFW area was in the late ‘70s called the Dallas Diamonds.
"If you look at the marketplace, Dallas is absolutely an extraordinary sports market...so you can take that and couple it with the fact that this was the largest unserved market for women's professional sports."
"It only made sense....we're the fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States, we're the fifth largest media market, and the third largest concentration of Fortune 1,000 companies. It makes perfect sense," said Wings president David Swatzell.
Unserved is right. A DFW resident would have to travel either to San Antonio or Houston to attend a professional women's basketball game in Texas, and neither of those cities are just around the corner as far as distance goes.
The Tulsa Shock went 18-16 overall and finished third in the postseason after fighting through an injury-ridden season. However, their luck is already changing for the better. Guard Skylar Diggins will be back and ready to go as she is recovering from a torn ACL injury during a victory over Seattle in July. Forward Tiffany Jackson-Jones will also be "court ready" after undergoing surgery on her right shin.
Injuries severely hurt the Shock from potentially going further last season. And now that the roster is looking healthy or working towards it, the Dallas Wings will be a force not to be taken lightly.
"We are the market disrupters. We are the team that you don't wanna play. We are not nice...we are going to be in your face the whole game," said Skylar Diggins. Diggins was named the WNBA Most Improved Player of the Year after scoring a franchise season record of 683 points. And after confirming that the roster will not change with the relocation, this will definitely be a "team to watch" in the 2016 season.
"I just grew up always wanting to play basketball in Texas ever since Cynthia Cooper and the Houston Comets started playing in '97 and now 20 years later we get to start our franchise in Texas," said Diggins.
Relocating to the DFW area also means a homecoming for Jackson-Jones and Sims. Sims grew up in Irving and played for Baylor. She also set a team high of 20 points per game in the postseason and was added to the 2014 WNBA All-Rookie team.
Jackson-Jones grew up in Dallas and played for the University of Texas where she was named Freshman of the Year.
"We're just looking forward to it. The move, the market, the fans, family and friends...Baylor fans can come and watch. We're looking to fill up this arena, disrupt it a little bit, and it's going to be a really exciting season," said Sims.
The Wings will have to share the arena with the men's and women's UTA Mavericks basketball teams (for now) but both parties look at it as a way to build a foundation and partnership.
NBA Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum stood in for WNBA president Laurel Richie, who could not attend today's press conference. He spoke highly of why they picked Dallas to debut this new team.
"The fans. The passion that these fans have for sports and specifically for basketball...there's a long history of tradition here of women's basketball, the AAU programs, the high school programs...so for us being able to bring the live excitement of a WNBA team inside this market we have no doubt that it's going to succeed," said Tatum.
As for the remaining Tulsa Shock fans who stuck by the team's side through it all (and it was rough), head coach Fred Williams has a message for you:
"I appreciate all of the fans at Tulsa. I know a lot of them will still support us and come out...they had voiced that before we left."
"It's pretty much like the Cowboys; you got fans everywhere. I really appreciate their effort of really supporting this teams and really helping us boost this team to their first time ever playoff appearance," said coach Williams.
The Dallas Wings look to spread their wings and fly to their first postseason appearance as a new team packed with talent and depth.
"I never won it all before...we gotta take it one game at a time and in the back of our minds we're thinking championship and in the front of our minds is who are we playing today," said Diggins.
The Dallas Wings will play 17 home games at UTA where they hope to pack the court each night with fans from all over the country.
"Being able to have my first game back here I think it's going to be something really special. And I hope that people come out and really support us."
Dallas and WNBA fans from coast to coast welcome the Dallas Wings with open arms.