While the WNBA and its fans were rockered early this month by the news that the owners of the Los Angeles Sparks, one of the league's keystone franchises, were withdrawing from involvement in the team, another franchise had good news to annouce today. Spurs Sports & Entertainment, the ownership group for both the San Antonio Spurs and the San Antonio Silver Stars, unveiled a new name and updated look for its WNBA franchise for the upcoming 2014 season. Among the changes, the team, which began its existence in 1978 in Salt Lake City as the Utah Starzz, sister team to the Utah Jazz and one of the league's eight founding franchises, before relocating to San Antonio in 2003 where they dropped the "z"s and becoming the San Antonio Silver Stars, will henceforth be known as the "San Antonio Stars." The new name will be reflected in an updated logo and uniform look, which were revealed today at a press conference at the AT&T Center.
But in even better news for those questioning the ability of the league to survive without the Los Angeles franchise, the team announced that San Antonio-based retailer H-E-B has signed on as the first-ever marquee sponsor for the Stars and will have the iconic H-E-B logo prominently displayed on the front of their jerseys. Jersey sponsorships such as the one the Stars announced today have become the difference between red and black ink for a number of teams throughout the league.
Last year, H-E-B and Spurs Sports & Entertainment announced a five-year renewal as corporate and community partners. H-E-B is the presenting sponsor of the Spurs 2013-14 season and will be the presenting sponsor for the Stars 2014 season. H-E-B also has a presence with the San Antonio Rampage (AHL) and Austin Toros (NBA Development League).
“We’re elated to expand on our collaboration with Spurs Sports & Entertainment as the first-ever marquee sponsor for the Stars, ” said Cory Basso, H-E-B Group Vice President of Marketing and Advertising. “The WNBA is the premier women’s sports league in the world and we want to continue to support women’s sports and make a positive impact in our community.”
"Strong brands continue to be attracted to the WNBA, not only for its elite athletes, outstanding entertainment and high level of play, but also for its authentic connection to their communities," said WNBA President Laurel Richie, who was on hand for the unveiling of the team's new name and jersey sponsorship. "Today's announcement marks a milestone in the long standing partnership between H-E-B and the Stars, and we look forward to the great things these two iconic Texas brands will do together in 2014 and beyond."
|"The new look for the Stars provides an updated design that more closely aligns with the brand and feel of our entire Spurs family of teams," said Rick Pych, Spurs Sports & Entertainment President of Business Operations, in unveiling the team's new home (left) and away (right) uniforms Tuesday. "We have been very fortunate to have H-E-B as our business and community partner for well over 20 years and they are the perfect fit to be the first-ever marquee sponsor for the Stars." (Photos courtesy San Antonio Stars)|
The Stars' new primary logo preserves the familiar silver, black and white color palate and features the San Antonio Stars wordmark above a shooting star, which was also a prominent feature of the logo being replaced. The secondary logo contains a stylized “S” above the shooting star. Fans can check out the new designs and get the latest news on the Stars at SAStars.com, as well as via the team’s social media channels on Instagram (@SAStars), Twitter (@SAStars) and Facebook (Facebook.com/SAStarsBasketball).
“The new look for the Stars provides an updated design that more closely aligns with the brand and feel of our entire Spurs family of teams,” said Rick Pych, Spurs Sports & Entertainment President of Business Operations. “We have been very fortunate to have H-E-B as our business and community partner for well over 20 years and they are the perfect fit to be the first-ever marquee sponsor for the Stars.”
The 2014 campaign will mark the Stars’ 12th season in San Antonio. The 2013 season marked a low-water mark for the team, who finished the season in fifth place in the Western Conference with a 12-22 record, failing to reach the playoffs for the first time in the last 10 years.
But the Stars' woes were largely attributable to the loss of key players to injury -- among others, All-Star Becky Hammon played less than one full game, initially out with a broken finger, then sustaining an ACL tear in her first game back on the floor; star power forward Sophia Young was out of the picture with an ACL tear before the season even began; and Danielle Robinson, who put up a promising performance at the point early on was also injured as the season wound down. But last summer's misfortunates translated into a top draft pick in this season's WNBA Draft (the Stars won the right to the No. 3 pick at the Draft Lottery conducted in the fall), and head coach Dan Hughes iced the cake for San Antonio fans at Tuesday's press conference. "We're excited to start playing basketball again in 2014," said Hughes, noting the imminent return of the Stars' injured stars.
In celebration of the H-E-B partnership, Hammon and Robinson made an appearance today at an H-E-B plus! outlet in San Antonio for an appreciation event featuring free food, games and prizes.
Source: Portions of this story were provided by a WNBA press release.