Mayor’s letter implores Shock owner to keep team in Tulsa

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By ZIVA BRANSTETTER
and ALEXIUS BURTON

The Frontier

In response to news reports this week that the Tulsa Shock may be moving, Mayor Dewey Bartlett fired off a terse letter asking the franchise to stay put.

The letter from Bartlett to William Cameron, who has a majority ownership stake in the WNBA team, refers to media reports that the Shock may be relocating. Bartlett wrote the letter Tuesday, the day The Frontier first reported the team’s possible move.

“I have read the media reports indicating the Tulsa Shock is considering relocating the franchise to Texas. On behalf of the City of Tulsa and the Tulsa Sports Commission, I request that you reconsider that decision,” Bartlett’s letter states.

“The citizens of Tulsa have consistently supported the Shock through numerous coaching changes and terrible losing seasons. To move the team now in light of it’s (sic) great season to date and increased fan support does not reflect well upon management’s recognition of that loyalty.”

The letter goes on to remind Cameron about the importance of the team to the city, both financially and symbolically.

“We have invested substantial sums of money — both public and private — in the Tulsa Shock franchise,” Bartlett’s letter states. “If the Shock leaves Tulsa, our public facilities will lose significant revenue, and the community will lose an essential part of its fabric.”

Bartlett’s letter also discusses the city’s commitment to diversity and creating opportunities for women.

“We are a city that is proud of our support of the empowerment of women — whether in sports, family, career or education. To leave Tulsa would be a blow to that commitment of our community.”

The letter closes by stating that losing the WNBA team “would cause irreparable loss to the public.”

“Please think of the hundreds of young school-aged women that will be devastated by the loss of their role models. So for the good of Tulsa and our citizens, I must respectfully as (sic) that you forego any plans to relocate the Tulsa Shock.

“To this end, I am requesting that you meet with me and community leaders to discuss how we can retain the Tulsa Shock in Tulsa.”

For many fans, reports that Cameron is cosidering moving the team come at an ironic time, as the Shock is having its best season so far. Currently, the team is ranked second in the WNBA Western Conference with a 10-5 record, trailing behind the Minnesota Lynx.

The team is owned by Tulsa Pro Hoops LLC, which is led by Cameron. A group of investors own a minority stake in the team including Paula Marshall, Stuart Price, Sam Combs, David Box, Don and Pat Hardin, Patricia Chernicky, Scott Schofield and Chris Christian.

Cameron has not returned calls from The Frontier seeking comment. The minority owners have remained mum about the team’s plans.

A spokesman for the team said earlier this week that he could neither confirm nor deny that the team is considering a move. Two sources have confirmed to The Frontier that Cameron wants to move the team, but other owners do not.

Any reqeust to move the Tulsa Shock would be subject to approval by the WNBA board of governors. It is unclear how much say the team’s minority owners would have in the decision.

In a letter Friday, former Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor urged the WNBA’s president  to “keep the shock in Tulsa.” Taylor’s letter states she is a “loyal Suite season ticket holder.”

“The Tulsa Shock has become a fabric of our community making a powerful impact on kids. … The players are viewed as role models to our community-at-large.”

Taylor’s letter notes the rallies, social media campaign and other efforts to keep the team here. She offers to meet with WNBA President Laurel Richie in New York “to discuss this important issue.”

“Tulsa has nurtured this team through losses, injuries, roster changes and coaching upheavals. We’ve been the 6th Man through the good times and the bad with a solid fan base.”

Reports that the team may leave Tulsa prompted supporters to hold a rally Wednesday, with a second rally planned before the team’s 3 p.m. game Sunday. Sheila Curley, who owns Six PR in Tulsa, said the rally will be held at Naples Flatbread beginning at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

“The goal of the grassroots campaign is to build the attendance,” said Curley, who has helped organize events supporting the team.

“Really whenever you talk to the fans this is a winning team. … We finally have the right roster coupled with the right coach and even with the injuries sustained this season … all of the other players have stepped up and stepped up in a big way.”

Curley said girls who are part of a YWCA program, Girls on the Run, will be at the rally.

“The YWCA program is presentd by the Shock and the team member are mentors for these girls,” she said.

Tulsa Shock Point Guard Skylar Diggins was named best WNBA player at the ESPY awards  this week. Diggins is out for the season with a knee injury.
Tulsa Shock Point Guard Skylar Diggins was named best WNBA player at the ESPY awards this week. Diggins is out for the season with a knee injury.

Point Guard Skylar Diggins suffered a season-ending knee injury last month. Diggins was named best WNBA player in the ESPY awards this week.

Throughout franchise history the Tulsa Shock have not had a head coach stay with the team for over two years. Since 2010 the Shock has had three head coaching changes and one interim coach.

Under Head Coach Nolan Richardson the Shock finished last in the league in 2010 with a 6-28 record.

Ziva Branstetter 918-520-0406

ziva@readfrontier.com

Tulsa Shock key dates

Sept. 29, 2009: Nolan Richardson named head coach of the WNBA Tulsa Shock

May 15, 2010: In its first game in franchise history, the Tulsa Shock were narrowly defeated by the Minnesota Lynx, 74-80, in front of a sell-out crowd of over 8,000 fans at the BOK Center.

July 10, 2011: Richardson steps down. Teresa Edwards named interim coach.

July 21, 2011: Former University of Tulsa and Colorado Head Coach Kathy McConnell-Miller joins Edwards on the Shock bench as an assistant for the remainder of the season.

July 27, 2011: Retired NBA player Tracy Murray joins staff as assistant coach.

Jan. 3, 2012: Shock name Gary Kloppenburg new head coach. Kloppenburg had served as an assistant coach for the Indiana Fever since 2008.

Sept. 14, 2013: The Tulsa Shock finishes the 2013 season with the most wins since the team moved to Tulsa and finished with a 11-23 record.

Oct. 15, 2013: The Shock relieves Head Coach Gary Kloppenburg and assistant coaches Jason Glover and Stacey Lovelace of their coaching duties.

Jan. 23, 2014: Fred Williams is named head coach.

March 6, 2014: Former WNBA player Bridget Pettis is named an assistant coach.

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Ziva Branstetter

Editor in Chief / Staff Writer

Ziva maintains she was always too nosy to be anything other than a reporter. Though she's on a new adventure with The Frontier, she spent more than 25 years in the newspaper business, making politicians nervous and making sure readers got the truth. Contact: ziva@readfrontier.com or 918-520-0406.
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