No matter who wins the WNBA Championship (the fifth and deciding game was after IBJ’s print deadline), the Indiana Fever have demonstrated that running a professional sports franchise isn’t just a dollars-and-cents proposition. It also requires heart. And that’s what the Fever have in abundance, from ownership to management to the players on the floor.
It all starts with the commitment of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Fever and could easily have thrown in the towel on a team that has had its ups and downs with attendance and sponsorships and has never made a profit. But ownership believes in the product and that a state with a basketball culture should have a women’s professional team.
When creating the franchise in 1999, they turned to Kelly Krauskopf, someone intimately familiar with the new league, to run it. Krauskopf had helped found the WNBA as its first director of operations. She had a brief stint away from the league before being lured to Indianapolis, where she’s been the only general manager the franchise has had.
Krauskopf told IBJ earlier this year that she believes the league and this franchise can be a vehicle for showcasing the strength and leadership of women. She also thinks the franchise can be a business success, and started the season with attendance and sponsorship revenue both headed in the right direction.
The championship has sent both numbers higher and raised the profile of a team led by WNBA defensive player of the year Tamika Catchings and south-side native Katie Douglas. Catchings, Douglas and their teammates generously support local causes and represent the franchise and the city with class.
That’s as it should be. The Fever franchise is quality from the front office to the free-throw line. It’s a team the city can celebrate.•
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