The University of Texas System Board of Regents has approved an agreement that will enable the WNBA team relocating from Tulsa, Okla., to play the next five seasons at The University of Texas at Arlington College Park Center beginning in 2016.
The women’s professional basketball team will host 17 regular season home games a year at College Park Center, adding new national exposure for UTA through game broadcasts and heightened interest in women’s professional sports across the North Texas region.
The organization’s arrival in the city and at the UTA campus will bring additional support to local restaurants and merchants and elevate the synergy between campus and community that characterizes UTA’s relationship to the fabric of Arlington and the North Texas region.
“This exciting opportunity is a perfect example of the value of the partnership with the City of Arlington in developing the College Park District and our state-of-the-art arena for both the institution and the surrounding area it serves. We anticipate seeing basketball played at the highest level and look forward to the campus and community coming together to cheer on the community’s newest professional team,” UTA President Vistasp M. Karbhari said.
“Our student-athletes will benefit tremendously from access to and interaction with a major women’s sports organization and our student body will learn so much by observing how the team, its owners and the WNBA operate. We welcome them with open arms.”
Tulsa Shock owner Bill Cameron said the franchise is extremely pleased about the move.
“As one of the most prolific sports towns in the U.S., we know the DFW Metroplex is ready for a WNBA franchise,” Cameron said. “We are excited to bring this team to fans throughout the region and honored to call College Park Center on The University of Texas at Arlington campus our new home.”
The 7,000-seat College Park Center opened in 2012 and is home to the UTA men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as the women’s volleyball team. Because the WNBA season runs May through September, the collegiate and pro-basketball seasons will have minimal overlap.
Sharon Carey, UTA director of special event facilities, said the WNBA was attracted to College Park Center as a “state-of-the-art facility designed to create an ideal experience for student and professional basketball players.” The Center features two full-size practice gyms, state-of-the-art training facilities, high-tech audio/visual systems and an environmentally sensitive design that earned the building a LEED Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.
“This is a great opportunity for fans from Arlington and North Texas to experience our facility and enjoy the excitement of professional women’s basketball,” Carey said.
Krista Gerlich, UTA head women’s basketball coach, added: “We couldn’t be more thrilled about the relocation of a WNBA franchise to College Park Center in Arlington. This is a great advancement for women’s basketball in the Metroplex. The Metroplex is already a strong market for girls’ basketball. Those girls will have fantastic role models in those pro players.”