The Storm will team with KONG-TV, again, broadcasting at least nine games on the network. Coupled with five combined games on ESPN2 and ABC, 14 of the defending champion Storm’s 34 regular-season games will be aired — a franchise high.
“This year there’s a big emphasis on trying to balance the schedule,” Storm CEO and president Karen Bryant said of the deal prior to official announcement. “We want to have home games because we want to showcase the arena to non-attending fans. But we want to make sure we televise away games, which season-ticket holders are always very interested in and it’s also a way for us to stay top-of-mind. We want to pepper some of those games on longer road trips so we stay fresh.”
The Storm aired five matchups on KONG-TV (Channel 6) and one on KING-TV’s Universal Sports channel (Comcast 115 and digital channel 5.2) last season.
Which games will broadcast in 2011 is still being negotiated. The Storm’s national debut is at noon June 4 on ABC when the team will receive its championship rings from new WNBA president Lauren J. Richie. Bryant unveiled the design on Wednesday.
It’s a total 1.3-carat diamond ring set in luminous white gold, each valued at more than $5,000. The center face is sunken to represent the lower-bowl at KeyArena and its fans. The Storm’s logo “S” is in the middle, adorned with three diamonds. That in turn is flanked by two diamonds, yet Bryant wouldn’t say whether those represented the team’s two titles or something else.
On one side panel is the players or coaches names/monikers with the WNBA logo. On the other is the WNBA trophy with the Storm’s historic, record-setting 28-6 season inscribed below.
“What’s great about this design is that people will interpret it in their own way,” Bryant said. “It has a lot of personality. For everybody who has the fortune to wear one, they’ll all feel a personal connection to it.”
A fan will receive a replica version without the precious stones. You can find out how to be entered in that contest here. On opening day, fans will receive green towels that mirror the championship banner to be hung in the rafters.
Stars Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson, Abby Bishop, newcomer Katie Smith, coach Brian Agler and assistant coach Jenny Boucek attended the announcement at the team’s headquarters. Bird and Agler said they won’t ever wear the ring, deeming it too special. Well, actually Agler doesn’t wear any jewelry, aside from his wedding band on game days.
Bird keeps all of her bling in their individual boxes, taking peaks when she chooses or showing those who ask.
“I’m not sure if I’ll ever wear it, I’ll be too afraid,” said Jackson, who with Bird designed the 2004 championship ring. Jackson did wear that version. “I don’t know how to wear something like that, it really means something so special. It’s like an engagement ring or a wedding ring. Something you really wear with pride. I’ve never had to wear one of those things, so…Now, we’ve got another championship to focus on so we’ve got to get back into gear.”
Fitting Jackson compared the ring to matrimony since designer Blue Nile is the world’s premier online jeweler. The 2010 championship ring is called “The Arena,” again to symbolize the close bond between the Storm and its fans.
“We’re honored to create this magnificent ring for our home team,” said Blue Nile CEO Diane Irvine.