By Robert Mento
In the last draft, the hometown WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury, picked up Brittney Griner, one of the most talked about people in the sports world, and she has helped the team beyond her basketball abilities.
Last season, the Mercury was plagued with injuries and had a record good for second worst in the league, 7-27. Ticket sales and other revenue sources reflected this.
However, things have begun to turn around at the start of the season. Amber Cox, Mercury President and COO, says the goals for ticket sales and revenue this season have already been achieved.
Cox cites Griner’s popularity and marketability as reasons why more people are coming out to see the team.
“People want to come out and see Brittney and I think the great thing about it is she has so much name recognition that she brings a lot of new people in to see women’s basketball for the first time,” she said.
Cox says that Griner’s popularity seems to override the performance of the team as well. The Mercury are off to a slow start on the court, but many people are still showing up.
“Win or lose, people love coming to our games,” she said.
This is especially true for Griner, who puts on quite a show for attendees. During the season opener, she became the first player to ever dunk more than once in a single game.
Sales are not the only positive change Griner has brought to the team. Media coverage of her, and therefore her new team, has increased significantly for a sport that normally does not see much coverage.
Kandace Hurdle, public relations coordinator for the Mercury, says that all media is good and describes Griner as a humble, positive person with a great story, which reflects well on the organization.
“We love the media. It’s all positive,” She said, “She’s a game changer, on and off the court.”