Friday, February 8, 2008

Orender Visit Highlights Big Day for Storm

Tip-Off BreakfastClifford Despeaux/Storm Photos

WNBA President Donna Orender's half-day in Seattle began with a chat with Senator Barack Obama at the Westin and ended with an interview with me. I'll leave it up to her to decide which of the two was the highlight.

Orender's whirlwind visit to the Emerald City (she actually got in from Houston last night, but not until after midnight) saw her take in two important Storm events: A Tip-Off Breakfast with leaders in the Seattle business community followed by the Seattle City Council hearing testimony on a resolution supporting renegotiation of the Storm's KeyArena lease.

The keynote speaker at the Tip-Off Breakfast, Orender challenged the local business community to step up and provide the support the Storm's prospective new ownership group, Force 10 Hoops, L.L.C., needs to thrive. With all four members of the ownership group in attendance, various leaders promised to do just that.

In testimony, at times highly personal, representatives spoke from businesses and non-profits including Children's Hospital, Qwest, the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Seattle Sports Commission, the Seattle Times, Virginia Mason Medical Center, the WIAA and the Washington State Lottery.

From the public sector, Seattle City Councilmembers Sally Clark and Jean Godden (who shared her pre-Title IX experience having to play either offense or defense but not both, never crossing halfcourt) explained the importance of keeping the Storm in KeyArena and the role models on the team's roster in Seattle. Larry Gossett from the King County Council represented the greater metropolitan area, speaking eloquently to the county's support of the Storm.

The same themes recurred: The strength of the bond between the Storm and fans, the impact made in the community by the Storm and their players and the excitement generated by the new ownership group.

At the conclusion of the breakfast, Orender and Anne Levinson from the ownership group hustled the few blocks to Seattle City Hall and Council Chambers for a hearing on the proposed resolution supporting renegotiation of the Storm's lease. The session went long before Godden declared she had to bring the "lovefest" to an end. The Council's Finance & Budget Committee voted unanimously in support of the resolution. The full Council is scheduled to vote on it on Monday.

After lunch and brief meetings, Orender found time on the way to the airport to talk about her day with me. Listen to that interview here and find out about Orender's unscheduled meeting with Senator Obama, how Storm fans can help Force 10 Hoops, L.L.C. with the vote from the Board of Governors on the ownership change at the end of the month, and more.

1 comment:

stalker 23 said...

My Friday started with meeting Mr. Obama at the gym - across the street from the Westin - I briefly chatted with him between sets in the weight room - before heading over the the Seattle City Council Chambers for the Finance Committee vote - where of course Donna O was.

My personal favorite of the 2 meetings - Donna O coming up to me after entering the Chambers and saying nice to see me again!!! (and she remembers my nickname!! - which seriously makes me laugh and smile)

Donna O is such a wonderful representative for the League - we are very lucky to have her as our president!