When the Detroit Shock announced the team would move to Tulsa in 2010, Lead investor Bill Cameron thought that he was inheriting the three-time WNBA championship team that had been a mainstay in the WNBA Finals since 2005. But by the end of the Shock's first season in Oklahoma, there weren't any players left on the roster that had played for that championship pedigree team.
Between the roster turnover and the head coaching carousel, it's taken until 2015 for the Tulsa Shock to show any real threat to Western Conference playoff contenders. Unfortunately for Tulsa fans, Bill Cameron thinks that six years was too many to wait.
The Shock majority owner announced earlier this week that the team would be moving to Dallas next season, a move that was unanimously approved by the league's Board of Governors earlier today.
In many ways, the move makes plenty of business sense. The Sports Business Journal reports that attendance at Shock games has ranked last in the league for each of the last four seasons. The 2010 Shock set the dubious record for lowest win percentage in franchise history, only to be outdone by the 2011 squad. When current head coach Fred Williams took the job, he was the fourth coach in five seasons. No
The Dallas-Fort Worth market offers an opportunity that the current location simply can't match. The county of Tulsa holds approximately 603,000 people. In contrast, the DFW area boasts a population closer to 7 million, and is one of the top five media markets in the country.
Dallas also holds a more robustly supportive culture towards women's basketball, from more successful college teams to the high interest in girls' high school basketball. And the DFW greater metropolitan area is undoubtedly a bigger free agent draw than northeastern Oklahoma.
Both minority owner Stuart Price and Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett strongly disagree with Cameron's assessment of the situation. Bartlett was insistent that Cameron pulled the plug on the team too early.
Though Cameron has said that he has made "significant personal investments" into the team over the years, Bartlett was dissatisfied with his reasoning, saying "I know nobody likes to keep forking over hard-earned money into a program that is losing money...The bottom line was we needed a winning team. Well, now we have one."
Price was even more vitriolic in his criticism of the decision, claiming that Cameron has been less than transparent in the relocation process. Price believes that Cameron "has used and set up Tulsa to incubate his franchise," which, now that they are finally showing promise under his ownership, he can finally move to a mega market.
While the deceptiveness of Bill Cameron is still in question, the economic opportunity afforded to the franchise in Texas is a lot more certain. Stuart Price has filed a lawsuit against Cameron to keep the team in Tulsa, but with the majority owner and the WNBA already moving forward, he faces an uphill battle.
The Shock will be the WNBA's first foray into the Dallas Fort-Worth area. The team will finish out the 2015 season in their current location, but will begin the 2016 season playing at the University of Texas at Arlington.