The WNBA’s Detroit Shock are moving to Tulsa, Okla., a team official told The Associated Press.
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity Monday because he was not authorized to make the announcement.
If the Shock relocate to Tulsa, former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson would serve as the WNBA team’s coach and GM.
Detroit made its debut in the league in 1998 and won titles in 2008, 2006 and 2003. The Shock lost last month to the Indiana Fever in the Eastern Conference finals after rallying to earn a playoff spot.
Last week, a group of investors in Tulsa said they would formally apply to the WNBA to purchase a franchise.
Lead investor Bill Cameron has said his group, called Tulsa Pro Hoops LLC, will exercise its option to buy a WNBA team and expected a decision from the league by the end of October with the goal of having a team in Oklahoma next season.
Cameron and fellow investor David Box — both Oklahoma City businessmen — announced last month that former Tulsa and Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson would serve as the WNBA team’s coach and general manager if Tulsa landed a franchise.
A spokesman for Cameron and Box said neither one was available for comment Monday but said a news conference was scheduled for Tuesday morning and that “details would be forthcoming then.”
The Shock had a lot of success on the court, but not in the stands in a state with four major professional teams along with Michigan and Michigan State athletics.
In the 2003 WNBA Finals, Detroit did draw 22,076 fans — setting a record for the largest crowd to watch a women’s professional basketball game — but most games were sparsely attended with a curtain covering up the upper level of The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Tulsa, with about 385,000 people, would be the second-smallest city with a WNBA franchise — after Uncasville, Conn. The team would play at the BOK Center, which holds about 18,000 and opened last year.
Cameron and Box are members of the ownership group of the Tulsa Talons of arenafootball2. Cameron also is part of the ownership group of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.
That group bought the then-Seattle SuperSonics and the WNBA’s Seattle Storm in July 2006, but sold the WNBA franchise to Seattle investors before moving the NBA franchise to Oklahoma City last year. The Shock’s move would give the state of Oklahoma two professional basketball teams.