Wanted: WNBA franchise

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ATLANTA - An Atlanta organizing committee is trying to bring a WNBA team to Atlanta for the 2008 season, Atlanta City Council president Lisa Borders said Monday.

Borders said she is part of an eight-member committee interested in bringing women's professional basketball back to Atlanta for the first time in 10 years.

The Atlanta Glory was a member of the American Basketball League, which folded on Dec. 28, 1998.

The WNBA, which had 16 teams in 2002, is down to 13 teams in 2007. The Charlotte franchise was disbanded following the 2006 season, leaving the league without a team in the Southeast.

The WNBA also has had teams in Cleveland, Miami and Portland fold since 2002. A Chicago team was added for the 2006 season.

"I think we recognize the value that the league would bring to our city," Borders said. "We are starting to talk with folks who would be potential owners. Our goal at the exploratory level is to have a team in place for the 2008 season."

WNBA president Donna Orender called Atlanta "a terrific destination for the WNBA."

"It could be a tremendous asset for the league," Orender said. "Our draw is to women, to family and youth. We bring it to a whole new audience. We bring something new and fresh to the marketplace."

Orender wouldn't disclose the minimum investment necessary to launch a franchise.

Borders said she isn't concerned about the NBA Atlanta Hawks' traditionally low attendance or the inability of the Atlanta Glory to survive 10 years ago.

"This is a different time and a different place in Atlanta's history, and I think we are at a very special place in Atlanta's history," Borders said.

"Atlanta's population declined for awhile and then flattened out but for five or six years we have seen it go straight up."

Borders said she envisions the Atlanta WNBA team playing in Philips Arena, because the league's summer schedule would not conflict with the Hawks or the NHL Atlanta Thrashers' games.

Borders plans to discuss the city's WNBA effort at a news conference on Wednesday with another member of Atlanta's WNBA committee, A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District.

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