The Connecticut Sun may be one of the longest running teams in the WNBA, but they had to get a start like everyone else.
Theirs may include a few name and player changes, however, the Sun wouldn’t be the team they are today without it.
5,000 Ticket Pledge
Before the WNBA consisted of as many teams as it did, there were only 10 teams making up the schedule for the 1999 season. The league’s Operating Committee decided to add two more expansion teams that would be operated by the Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves.
The one condition to this was that the teams would only come into actuality if they could secure at least 5,000 ticket pledges before September 1, 1998. The Orlando WNBA held a ticket drive at the Orlando Magic’s practice court.
Executives, staff, and Magic players brought their daughters to the event, which also happened to be “National Bring Your Daughter To Work Day.” A pair of tickets was also presented to the oldest living woman in Orlando. After the end of the first day of collecting $50 ticket deposits, the future team had received 1,068 pledges.
After 9 days of selling and collecting pledges, Magic guard Nick Anderson placed the 2,500th ticket pledge as he purchased tickets as a Mother’s Day gift. On August 13, Minnie Mouse placed the 5,000th WNBA ticket purchase and secured Orlando a WNBA team.
After securing the necessary 5,000 ticket sales, Orlando was given the green light on the WNBA expansion team. Carolyn Peck was named the General Manager and Head Coach of Orlando’s team. Peck is known for her leadership and guidance with the Tennessee and Purdue collegiate programs. Shortly after this the team was named the Orlando Miracle.
The Miracle began putting its team together that included Nykesha Sales, Andrea Congreaves, Kisha Ford, Yolanda Moore, and Adrienne Johnson. The Miracle continued expanding until they had their team put together and on June 10, 1999 they had their first ever tip-off against the Houston Comets. In 2002, Head Coach Carolyn Peck resigned in lieu of taking the head coaching position at the University of Florida.
Dee Brown, former Orlando Magic guard, took over as Head Coach and Director of Player Personnel. Later that year, the Miracle announced it would be changing locations to take effect for the 2003 season.
Becoming The Connecticut Sun
After being the Orlando Miracle for several seasons, the Miracle relocated to Connecticut and in honor of the new owners became the Connecticut Sun. Mohegan Sun, the new owner of the team, hosted a fan festival to welcome the former Miracle to Connecticut.
This was the first team in league history to be independently owned. Following this transition a new Head Coach was also named in Mike Thibault. Thibault was a 34-year coaching veteran, most well known for his work as an Assistant Coach and Director of Scouting for the Los Angeles Lakers. His work with the Lakers earned him two NBA Titles and experience he could use to make the Connecticut Sun successful.