There is plenty of activity and conjecture which suggests that the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA could be moving to the City of Pasadena. With a 13-year history in Los Angeles, the Sparks have established themselves as an elite professional franchise. The team features two WNBA Championships as well as names that are synonymous with women's basketball, including Tina Thompson, Candace Parker, and of course the legendary, retired Lisa Leslie. The professional sporting franchise has also captured three Conference Championships and clenched ten playoff appearances. Although the team would remain the Los Angeles Sparks they are considering the relocation of their training facility and front office to Pasadena.
Professional sports have long been important to the economic and cultural life of American cities. Municipalities seek professional sports franchises for the economic benefits which they bring to their host communities. Local businessman, Ishmael Trone, envisioned the relocation of the Sparks as an opening for Pasadena to optimize the resources and opportunities which come with a professional sports franchise.
Ishmael first courted the Sparks in May 2009, when he invited Lisa Leslie to participate in the Robinson Park Phase I ground breaking ceremony, in which she were to participate in honoring Rachel Robinson, widowed wife of legendary Jackie Robinson, with the first ever key to the City. Due to a scheduling conflict, Lisa could not attend and the franchise President Kristin Bernert attended in her absence. Conversation ensued regarding the Sparks existing relationships with local non-profit youth organizations, their desire to broaden their fan base and to provide additional WNBA educational resources to local youth. It was then that Ishmael first made mention of the concept of a collaboration with the team to host an annual "City of Pasadena Night" event at STAPLES Center, to highlight the talents of Pasadena youth and to provide youth intern and job shadowing opportunities with the Sparks staff during an official game. The inaugural event took place in August 2009. The turn-out of the Pasadena community and the success of this event proved to be the consideration necessary for Ishmael to open the discussion of a Sparks potential relocation of their front office, training facility and housing for the players to Pasadena. Since that time, agents from F & M's Unyque Financial have been working diligently with local commercial property owners, city officials and other relevant parties to realize the vision of Pasadena being the Official Training Home of the Los Angeles Sparks
Since the purchase of the team by two prominent women, Carla Christofferson and Katherine Goodman, in 2007, the Sparks have been extremely active in the community. They have created a history of making a positive difference in the lives of kids throughout Southern California, as evidenced by the countless hours of community service that their players put in and the active participation of their staff in community partnerships and events. If the proposed relocation occurs Pasadena residents will benefit as a result of the youth programs focused on reading and learning, health and fitness, and of course youth basketball, as well as general market initiatives like "Going Green" and "Breast Health Awareness". If the move transpires it will be sometime before the 2011 season which begins in April 2011.
You're invited to participate as the "City of Pasadena" takes over the STAPLES Center to promote "Water Conservation Awareness!" on August 4, 2010 7:30 pm Tip Off. For tickets visit http://tinyurl.com/248hdmw or contact Greg Mundweil at 213-929-1318.