For most people planning a summer vacation comes down to affordability, travel and something for everyone in the family to enjoy. For WNBA fans most summer vacations include traveling to see their favorite player or team. For a lot of fans these do not always coincide with one another, resulting in some electing to try to attend the annual All-Star game. For most fans in the West and Midwest eight out of ten times this means traveling east. Literally. Eight out of ten times. For a league that stakes its claim to affordable family fun, a league striving to gain more fans, the answer is simple: take the best opportunity to showcase the growth and talent of the league and show it to the same fans, in the same few sites, within a couple hundred miles of one another, over and over and over. Wash, rinse and repeat. Granted, loyal fans can travel to these destinations but honestly, who not only wants to but can afford to repeatedly return to New York, Connecticut and Washington, D.C. for the same event?
The 2011 All-Star game was however held in the Midwest, in San Antonio, yet this year it returns to Connecticut. Why not keep moving west? While the cities of Seattle and Los Angeles would also be great hosting cities in the future, (seriously, how have they never hosted?) and Phoenix has hosted the WNBA all star game previously in 2000, 2014 is the perfect time to bring it back to the valley of the sun.
Excitement and enthusiasm would only build off a host team stocked with four All-Stars, a three-time sixth woman of the year, and the first pick in this year’s draft. As if stars like Diana Taurasi don’t bring enough recognition, respect and intrigue to bring people in, the Mercury will also be drafting a player with the number one pick that will no doubt bring in another fanbase, along with a new level of exposure and hype.
With two local, easy to navigate, airports (Sky Harbor and Phoenix-Mesa-Gateway) fans traveling to Phoenix can find very affordable flight rates, with most downtown hotels by the arena offering shuttle service as well. Recently, the city finished a renovation project in downtown Phoenix creating CityScape. CityScape encompasses a two city block radius filled with shopping, dining and entertainment. Also within walking distance is the Arizona Science Center, as well as Chase Field for baseball fans. Fans looking to explore the valley are able to do so via the light rail system with a $4 all day pass.
A combination of affordability for fans, a west coast location with loyal fans ready to usher in new fans, an arena surrounded by a $500 million entertainment hub, and all the excitement and hype surrounding the stars available on the host team, the WNBA should take advantage and seize this great opportunity to showcase it's product.