Sky, Red Stars, Bandits join together for initiative
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Sure, one point of the #ChangingThe-Game partnership between the Sky, Red Stars and Bandits is to sell tickets. But that’s not the only one.
“Clearly, we want to sell tickets,” Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler said, “but we have a goal in the Red Stars to just simply raise awareness of pro women’s sports, and give young women a chance to dream like the young boys do.”
Chicago’s three women’s sports teams announced last week that they are offering a $50 package for a T-shirt and tickets to each franchise’s 2019 home opener. The idea was hatched by Bryn Raschke, the team’s corporate partnerships and promotions manager. Whisler said Raschke “drove hard” to make the partnership a reality, and it took “someone who really wanted it to happen.”
Raschke said she was inspired by the national “SheIs” initiative — a combined effort by eight women’s sports leagues that came together to share resources and ideas — and wanted to bring something similar to Chicago.
“To have the women step up in this way and lead this charge is something that I hope lasts longer than any time I’m in sports or with these teams,” Raschke said. “It’s something I hope continues and benefits the fans, players and everyone working in front offices.”
Raschke says nothing is concrete, but there are ideas for ways to expand the partnership beyond the ticket deal. Regardless, the benefits are obvious for each team involved.
“You do this because we have rabid fans for each sport who may not always support the other sports or even know how to reach out to the other sports,” Whisler said. “This introduction of each other’s passionate fan base we thought was a great way to grow the game for everybody.”
Even though the Red Stars’ season in the NWSL runs roughly at the same time as the Sky’s in the WNBA and the Bandits’ in National Pro Fastpitch, the franchises don’t view the others as competitors. Instead, they see the others as having the same goals.
“I think it’s important not only here in this city, but everywhere. We constantly talk about taking women’s sports and weaving it directly into the sports fabric of this city, and in a larger sense, into the fabric of the country,” Sky president and CEO Adam Fox said. “Getting a chance to be able to introduce our product to one another’s fan bases and knowing that the more opportunities we all have to see women competing at the highest level, it can only benefit the programs across [the] sport.”
Whisler echoed that sentiment.
“We think awareness grows it for everybody until a saturation point,” Whisler said. “We’re nowhere near that.”