Starzz become third franchise to move or fold this year

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Starzz are moving to San Antonio,
the third WNBA franchise to either relocate or shut down this year.

''I really truly do feel appreciative to the fans and the
sponsors that supported us,'' Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller said
Thursday. ''But the fact is that, in this market, there just
weren't enough of them.''

Miller said Thursday that the league had approached him about
relocating the team, which struggled with attendance and finances
despite increased success on the court.

Miller said he agreed Thursday morning to let the franchise go
to San Antonio, a move that was approved by the WNBA in November.
The Texas city had satisfied a league requirement that it obtain
6,000 season ticket deposits.

With the Starzz coming off an appearance in the Western
Conference finals, the Utah franchise was a popular choice.

''The Starzz are one of the most exciting teams in the league,
and we are confident they will flourish in their new home,'' said
WNBA president Val Ackerman.

The Starzz scheduled an afternoon news conference to announce
the move.

The nearly 7-year-old league is owned collectively by NBA

Earlier this year, Orlando and Miami shut down operations. If
they move, it could be to cities that currently do not have an NBA

''We have some prospects for Miami and Orlando,'' league
spokesman Tim Frank said. ''We just don't know yet. We hopefully
will know here in the very near future.''

If new homes for the Sol and Miracle aren't found, a dispersal
draft will be held for the remaining teams to pick from the Miami
and Orlando rosters.

In October, the NBA's Board of Governors decided to allow
non-NBA owners to acquire teams and to allow teams in non-NBA
markets. The board decided the Charlotte Sting could remain in that
city even though the NBA's Hornets moved to New Orleans.

Miller said the Starzz were losing more than $1 million a year,
but he wouldn't say specifically how much. Attendance increased
slightly last season as Utah went 20-12, going from an average of
7,060 to 7,790, but it wasn't enough to sustain a profit.

''I couldn't afford the Jazz if nobody came to a game,'' Miller
said. ''It's the same situation with the Starzz. We tried
everything we knew how.''

The San Antonio team will announce a new name, which has been
narrowed down to two choices, probably in a month, said Jena Evans,
a Spurs spokeswoman.

Utah entered the WNBA in 1996, when it was picked as one of the
league's charter franchises with Denise Taylor as the team's first

The team struggled early, finishing last in its first season
with a 7-21 record. The Starzz had their first winning record in
2000, going 18-14.

The team reached the Western Conference finals in 2002, losing
to the Los Angeles Sparks.