Bobcats drop ownership of WNBA franchise

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Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Charlotte Sting were turned over to the WNBA on Wednesday after Charlotte Bobcats' officials said they would no longer operate the team.
The league is now in negotiations to sell the team, one of the league's original franchises.
Fred Whitfield, sports and entertainment president of the Bobcats, said since management was restructured, "we have made the decision to focus all of our resources and efforts on the operation of the Charlotte Bobcats."
The Sting made the championship series only once in their 10 seasons and have suffered from declining attendance.
Originally paired with the Charlotte Hornets, the Sting stayed behind when the Hornets moved to New Orleans in 2002. The women's team was inherited by Robert Johnson when he was awarded the expansion franchise that became the Bobcats in late 2002.
The Sting has struggled both on the court and at the ticket office. Even the 2005 hiring of popular former Hornets star Muggsy Bogues as coach didn't help - the Sting won only 17 games over the last two seasons and this season reported average attendance of 5,783, 13th in the 14-team league.
"The WNBA is grateful to the Bobcats organization, to the city of Charlotte and all the fans that supported the Sting for helping build not only the WNBA but the game of women's basketball," WNBA President Donna Orender said in a statement.
A local sports marketing executive, Cindy Sisson-Hensley, told The Charlotte Observer in a story published Wednesday she missed a Tuesday deadline to raise $3.5 million as a down payment for the Sting. Sisson-Hensley, who wants to keep the team in Charlotte, said she raised only about $1.2 million.
Johnson's primary investment, the Bobcats, has one of the NBA's worst records this season. The average attendance is 15,134 - 29th of 30 teams in the league - in their second season at Charlotte Bobcats Arena, where the naming rights remain for sale.
Earlier this year, Johnson dismissed the Bobcats' original president and marketing officer and brought in Michael Jordan as a minority owner.
Also Tuesday, chief legal counsel Jonathan Fine and vice president of public relations Scott Leightman were let go.