Reese, Cardoso seen as ‘luminaries’ for Sky’s long-term future

Now-WNBA Chicago Sky F Angel Reese (LSU) and C Kamilla Cardoso (South Carolina) during this year’s NCAA women’s tournament

Chicago Sky F Angel Reese and C Kamilla Cardoso are the “future of the organization” and they are “already proving that they have the necessary star power to become Chicago luminaries if their development proceeds accordingly,” according to Annie Costabile of the CHCIAGO SUN-TIMES. The Cardoso/Reese impact “already is being felt within the franchise” as Reese’s No. 5 jersey “sold out within days of her being drafted by the Sky.” After the draft, the Sky saw “an influx of followers on social media,” and ticket sales also have “received a jolt.” Reese said she has “taken on that [celebrity] role.” She added, “A lot of players have, a lot of players from my class. It was a really historic class in being able to change things. Going in the right direction is really important.” Costabile noted the Sky have been “touting plans for a new practice facility” since last year but have “yet to announce anything concrete.” Last week, Sky co-owner and Chair Nadia Rawlinson said that her hope is to “make an announcement before the start of the 2024 season”. 

BIGGER VENUE MOVES: In Chicago, Jack Grieve noted the Sky are “not ruling out the possibility” that the team could host games this season at venues other than their typical home stadium of Wintrust Arena, which seats about 10,000 fans. Rawlinson said the Sky are “talking to all relevant parties” to play at alternate sites to meet increased ticket demand. While there is “no guarantee that the team can or will deviate from Wintrust Arena,” Grieve noted the United Center, which seats 23,500 fans, “could seem like the obvious alternative.” Grieve noted that ticket sales “soared” for Sky games immediately following the WNBA draft. Rawlinson said the financial metrics the club measures “have been positively impacted.” Rawlinson: “From the business side of things, this is definitely different from what we anticipated, in all great and wonderful ways. Now it’s all hands on deck. We’re working around the clock. Our ticket and sponsorship folks are nonstop. It’s hard to even get them on the phone if you’re not already buying a season pass or a slew of tickets for any of our games”.

TIME IS NOW: USA TODAY’s Nancy Armour wrote it is “well-established we’re at an inflection point for women’s sports.” Reese’s introductory press conference yesterday was hosted at a rec center in a suburban strip mall that doubles as the Sky’s “practice facility.”  While the Sky have been “talking for a while now” about a new practice facility, even winning the 2021 WNBA championship “couldn’t move the team to get shovels in the ground.” The Sky brought in eight new owners last June, with the “express purpose of using some of that funding on a practice facility.” Yet nearly a year later, the team has “yet to even announce a site.” Armour noted it took “roughly a year for the Storm and Aces to build their facilities.” Which means for “at least this season and possibly part of next,” the Sky’s “prized rookies will be sharing space with senior citizens and suburbanites.” Armour wrote Reese and Cardoso “can help accelerate the WNBA’s growth,” but it is “on the Chicago Sky to not hold them back”.