Originally created 11/28/02

WNBA's Miami Sol ceases operations



MIAMI -- The Miami Sol folded Wednesday after three seasons in the WNBA, citing the inability to raise enough revenue to meet the league's new restructuring agreement.

The WNBA assumed control of the franchise, and would not say whether the team will be moved or dissolved.

The team's ownership, the Heat Group, said the WNBA's decision to place the responsibility of finding corporate sponsors and paying players' salaries with the individual teams forced the closure.

Previously, the league paid the players and found most national corporate sponsors. The WNBA is owned collectively by NBA franchise owners.

"That model will work well for the league with cities that have good corporate bases," said Eric Woolworth, Heat Group's president of business operations. "The model, ultimately in Miami, is not going to work."

Woolworth said the Sol would be unable to raise enough local sponsorship revenue because Miami does not have a corporate base as large as other WNBA cities.

He also cited a saturated sports market which features the Miami Dolphins, the Florida Marlins, the Florida Panthers and the Heat, which is also owned by Heat Group.

"Most of the sports teams in this market work very hard to get national corporate dollars for support, and that's difficult for us with the Sol," Woolworth said.

The WNBA will not make a decision on whether to relocate or dissolve the franchise until the end of the year at the earliest, according to Traci Cook, senior director of communications for the WNBA.

The league is working with potential owners to put teams in new markets, Cook said.

The league anticipated problems with the restructuring agreement in cities that could not come up with the necessary funding to support a franchise.

"When we took the vote in October, we anticipated that the new structure would not work for certain NBA owners," Cook said. "In the long term, it will put WNBA teams where they can be more successful."

The Sol was 15-17 in 2002 and 48-48 in their three years of regular-season play. Miami made the playoffs in 2001, losing to the New York Liberty in the first round.

Miami ranked seventh in attendance in the 16-team WNBA last season, averaging more than 8,800 fans per game.

The Sol is the second WNBA team to leave Florida this offseason. The Orlando Miracle will move to a different city next season as part of the WNBA's restructuring plan.