Seattle Storm owners leaving mark on and off the court

Lisa Brummel, Dawn Trudeau and Ginny Gilder are thrilled to play the role of hostesses this weekend with the WNBA All-Star Game in Seattle for the first time.

The owners of the Storm know it's a great opportunity to show off the city, the franchise and the team's passionate fans to a national audience.

''We are beyond excited about it,'' Brummel said. ''It's fun and challenging and we expect to have a fantastic crowd and city behind it.''

The trio bought the team nearly 10 years ago to help keep it in Seattle when the previous owners - who also owned the SuperSonics - were leaving town. They've had their share of success on and off the court, winning the WNBA title in 2010, and have one of the best-run independently owned franchises in the league.

''I can't speak for other owners in the league, but it's important to us, not that we just run a great team, but represent ourselves, the city and team the best way we can,'' Brummel said. ''We are in the unique position that we do own a sports team that has a national platform. We want to make sure we are standing up for things that matter for us, matter to our fan base and matter to our players.''

The Storm did just that earlier this week by becoming the first pro sports team to publicly support Planned Parenthood. The team held a rally on Tuesday before its game against Chicago and said it would donate part of every ticket sold to that organization.

Not wanting to make anyone in the Storm feel uncomfortable with the decision, the owners went to every person associated with the team to make sure they were fine with the choice.

''We made it clear with them that they had no responsibility to participate in any way, that it was an owner initiative and it would remain an owner initiative,'' Trudeau said.

The night was a huge success in the minds of the owners and the players.

''I said this on the Planned Parenthood night, it was more just a proud feeling,'' said longtime Storm player Sue Bird, who participated in a public service announcement about Planned Parenthood. ''I really felt proud to be part of this franchise, proud to know the women that are leading this team are also leaders in other aspects of life and aren't afraid to speak up, aren't afraid to push the envelope. That's what makes them successes in their own life. And now we're seeing them bring that to our WNBA.''

When the players last season spoke up about the Black Lives Matters movement, the ownership group supported them.

''It came from the players, and we saw that across the league,'' Gilder said. ''We made the decision to let the players knew we were standing behind them.''

While the team has struggled for consistency on the court this season despite having stars Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and Bird, the franchise is close to making money.

''We're definitely on the path to profitability,'' Trudeau said. ''In all sports leagues there is an ebb and flow to the financials of a franchise. It has a lot to do with winning and most teams have cycles they go through.''

But for now they are looking forward to Saturday's All-Star Game.

''I can't wait to have the All-Stars walk into the arena and have our fans experience that moment,'' Brummel said. ''I think it gives me goosebumps to think about it. We don't get these kind of chances out here that often, and our fans are so good and it's a huge reward for them as well as us. It's a moment I've been waiting for.''

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