One Equal World

WNBA Trying to Market in LGBT Community

Posted on: May 27, 2014

Last week, the WNBA announced plans to is launch a campaign to market specifically to the LGBT community, making it the first pro league to specifically recruit gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered fans to its games. The WNBA has known for some time that a significant portion of its fan base is in the LGBT community, and now it plans to capitalize on that.


hoenix Mercury drives for a shot under the basket during Saturday nights game against the Atlanta Dream
Doug James /

“For us it’s a celebration of diversity and inclusion and recognition of an audience that has been with us very passionately,” WNBA President Laurel Richie said. “This is one of those moments in the ‘W’ where everybody comes together.”

But marketing to the LGBT community is something the Lynx have been doing for a while, according to Carley Knox, director of business operations for the team. Now, it seems the WNBA is finally catching on.

“This is exactly what we do every year,” Knox said. “Almost all the teams have been doing local events. This is the first time the league has made it a big initiative as far as a marketing platform.”

The initiative, known as “WNBA Pride” included the launch Wednesday of a new website, The site encourages teams to take part in local pride festivals and parades, working with advocacy groups and advertising with lesbian media. The league will have pride games during June in which players will wear commemorative warm-up shirts. One of the games, between Tulsa and Chicago on June 22, will be televised nationally.

Rick Welts, who was the executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the NBA when the WNBA started in 1997, said that when the league began, executives figured the fan base would be a carryover from the NBA.

“We guessed very wrong on that,” said Welts, who now is the president and chief operating officer of the Golden State Warriors and became the highest-ranking executive in men’s sports to publicly acknowledge being gay in 2011. “Maybe we should have known better. I think from its outset, the WNBA attracted a fan with different interests than our profile of an NBA fan.”


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