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WNBA team for sale, MLSE should make a call: Smith


Can’t imagine this story got much play back home while I was traipsing around the Central Time Zone because it didn’t cause too much of a stir in any of the cities that I was in and I’d presume even less here.

But news that James Dolan and Madison Square Garden have now put the WNBA’s New York Liberty up for sale starting me thinking and it’s kind of been gnawing at me for a couple of days.

Would Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment even think about making a call to Dolan for any due diligence on a possible acquisition?

I’m told it’s not something that anyone has thought much about — at least that was the word from high-ranking officials the day the sale was first announced — and I don’t know that anyone would have done anything in the intervening 48 hours or so.

Should they?

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I think it would be wise to at least make a call, if only to determine whether Dolan and his cohorts are looking solely for buyers who’d leave the team in New York or whether there is a larger market they might investigate.

I have no idea what the cost would be — I can’t even find a leaked sale price on the San Antonio-to-Las Vegas move from a month or so ago — but I do know that MLSE wouldn’t have to dig too far in the vault to come up with it.

The bigger questions are whether it would work here and could they at least break even because as altruistic as they might be, the good folks to run the company run it for a profit, break-even at best.

I think it might work now, which is a change from my thoughts maybe five or seven years ago. I still don’t think there’s a lot of recognition factor with the women in the league among fans here but there’s certainly more than there was and it’s building.

But the bigger thing — and this is where it gets dicey — is that I think it’s just the right thing for the corporation to do.

Masai and his folks have rightfully been praised for the way they’ve hired, promoted and included women at every level of the organization. Front office, corporate positions, media relations, broadcasting, coaching, training and medical; they have done an outstanding job and are worthy of high praise for being so inclusive.

So why not go the next, biggest step and bring a WNBA team to the area and under the corporate umbrella?

It would be a bold move in the Canadian sports business world, it would be an even stronger message about equality and opportunity and would provide a generation of young female basketball fans even more role models — athletic rather than office-bound — to aspire to.

As the sports universe expands, it just strikes me as an idea whose time has come.

Again, the finances are certainly something to be taken into consideration, no one goes into a business looking to take a bath but I would bet there are some kind of company-wide leveraging and accounting legerdemain that could be done to make the numbers work.

Maybe it’s not the New York franchise, maybe there’s not enough time to put everything in place to make that work quickly enough to satisfy the sellers and put things in place here.

But maybe it would and I would imagine there might be another franchise that might be for sale that would allow a bit more time for due diligence and putting things in place.

Of course, they did the Raptors905 from ground up in about six months so it can be done and it can be done here so there’s that to think about.

Anyway, maybe it’s not workable for any number of reasons but I think the good folks in the Ivory Tower down on Bay Street need to do some serious thinking about it.

Heck, our old friend Isiah Thomas is the Liberty president, maybe he and the friends he’s got in high MLSE places can put together some kind of quick bid.

It’s cold out and this always makes me think summer for some reason.

Read with interest the story about the Halifax CFL thing.

Anyone thinks this is (a) new or (b) going to happen should know that as a cub reporter in Woodstock a bit unsure about the future, I actually sent a letter to the group trying to land a team down there to investigate employment possibilities.

That was 1980 or 1981.

Still waiting for (a) the team and (b) a stadium and (c) an owner.

But best of luck with that.

We could still use a little bit of mail over at askdoug@thestar.ca if you’re so inclined.

I’m kind of tired and don’t want to work too, too hard but if there’s legit stuff on your mind, I’ll take my best shot at answering it.

It’s again going to be for Sunday morning; I’m still looking to coast most Saturdays at least early in the season so there’s one morning a week when I don’t have to get up early and type.

Saw somewhere that the Argos are expecting more than 20,000 for the East final on Sunday and that’s a good thing. If it’s good weather, I know it’ll be a good day because the tailgate and atmosphere isn’t bad at all.

And, you know, I don’t really care how many of those 20,000-plus are comped or discounted or whatever and the fact a large throng of them will be Saskatchewan supports doesn’t matter either. A good crowd can make a day at a game more worth it.

TORONTO STAR

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