ATLANTA -- The WNBA will announce Wednesday that it has
awarded a franchise to Atlanta, a person familiar with the deal
Atlanta real estate executive Ron Terwilliger will be the sole
owner of the team, which will begin play in 2008, according to the
person familiar with the deal, who requested anonymity because the
new franchise hasn't been officially announced yet.
Atlanta City Council president Lisa Borders, one of the leaders
of the committee which organized the effort, is expected to attend
Wednesday's news conference along with Terwilliger.
Borders and WNBA president Donna Orender did not immediately
return messages on Tuesday.
The WNBA's Charlotte franchise was disbanded following the 2006
season, leaving the league without a team in the Southeast.
Orender also had expansion talks with groups in the San
Francisco area, Kansas City, Albuquerque, N.M., Colorado,
Philadelphia and Atlantic City.
Borders has said she was not concerned that Atlanta's NBA team
has ranked at or near the bottom of the league's attendance totals
in recent seasons.
"We have a significant talent pool with the SEC and ACC, which
are very strong conferences for men's and women's basketball,"
Borders said in May. "We would have this type of opportunity for
women to leave college and go on and play in the Southeast in the
Atlanta lost its last women's professional team nine years ago.
The Atlanta Glory was a member of the American Basketball League,
which folded on Dec. 28, 1998.
Seven WNBA teams had a drop in attendance in 2006 when the
average was just under 7,500, nearly 3,400 below the 10,869 the
league averaged in 1998.
The Atlanta WNBA team is expected to play in Philips Arena, also
home to the Hawks and the NHL Atlanta Thrashers. It isn't expected
to announce a coach on Wednesday.