WNBA owners approve Tulsa Shock’s move to Dallas area

WNBA owners unanimously approved a plan Thursday to move the Tulsa Shock to the Dallas-Fort Worth area next season.

The Shock (10-8) will finish this season in Tulsa. They will play next year at the University of Texas at Arlington, subject to approval by the Texas system’s Board of Regents.

“The WNBA is extremely grateful to the city of Tulsa and the team’s loyal fans,” WNBA President Laurel J. Richie said. “The support they have shown for the Shock and women’s professional basketball over the past six seasons has been tremendous. We look forward to having our first team based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.”

Shock majority owner Bill Cameron announced his plans to move the team to Texas on Monday. He said the move makes sense because the Dallas area is the largest underserved market for women’s sports and has the nation’s fifth-biggest media market.

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“Today is a truly exciting day, and we thank the WNBA for its support in approving the relocation to the Dallas-Fort Worth marketplace,” Cameron said in a statement. “We are thrilled to join one of the most prolific sports regions in the country, with a fan base that has a genuine love for their professional sports teams.”

Cameron holds a majority stake, as does David Box, and there are 11 minority owners as well. In a letter sent to the other owners on Monday, Cameron said though revenues from the league have increased and a sponsorship from Osage Casino has been helpful, he has “willingly paid $6.2 million to ensure we covered the losses and kept the team and the organization viable.”

Some minority owners aren’t happy with Cameron’s decision to move the team, and one, Stuart Price, filed a lawsuit against him on Monday which claims the minority owners weren’t told about Cameron’s plans.

“Absolutely, the litigation will continue!” Price said in an emailed statement. “We have sent document requests to the defendants. The facts of the defendants’ self-dealing, unprincipled pattern of behavior and fraudulent activities remain to be determined by the Tulsa County District Court.”

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Locals rallied when rumors circulated that the team might move. Season ticketholders and private donors funded a campaign that handed out 800 gold “Save Our Shock” t-shirts before Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Lynx.

Tulsa originally thought it was bringing a contender to town from Detroit for the 2010 season, but most of the players from the powerhouse teams that won three WNBA titles didn’t move with the team, and the Shock went 6-28 in their first year in Tulsa. In the second year, the team went 3-31. The Shock went 9-25 in 2012, 11-23 in 2013 and 12-22 in 2014. According to the Sports Business Journal, attendance has been last in the league the past four years, though the numbers have improved this season.

Tulsa won eight of its first nine games this season before star guard Skylar Diggins was lost for the season with an ACL injury. The Shock have lost seven of nine since, but they still have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since moving from Detroit. Tulsa enters the All-Star break in third place in the Western Conference standings. Four teams make the playoffs in each conference.

Price wants the city to support the Shock in the second half of the season.

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“In the meantime, I call on all Shock fans and Tulsans to attend this season’s last nine home games and playoffs and watch these great players perform at the highest level of athleticism and class.”

AP Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg in New York contributed to this report.