Ralph Morton has been the executive director of the Seattle Sports Commission (SSC) since 2004, and previously was vice president of events for the Greater New Orleans Sports foundation. The University of Florida graduate lives on Mercer Island with his wife and four children.
Since its inception, the Seattle Sports Commission has worked to make Seattle a world-class sports community. For more than a decade, we have worked tirelessly to help sports be a catalyst for local business growth, the health of our citizens and pride in our community.
We have been operating under the mantra made famous by the movie “Field of Dreams” – “If you build it, they will come.” Well that day is now here, and it is up to Seattle to prove to the country that it can provide the most dynamic atmosphere for large women’s sporting events and their legions of fans.
Thursday through Sunday, Seattle will host the Pac-12 Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament at KeyArena. It is a golden opportunity for our city to set a new standard for women’s basketball as we welcome some of the top college players in the country playing for teams consistently ranked in the top 25.
The Pac-12 chose Seattle not only for its excellent support of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm and enthusiastic women’s basketball fans, but also for the experience the Emerald City can offer Pac-12 fans as visitors. All the tournament games will be on national TV, so we as fans have an opportunity to make a statement to the rest of the country.
To make the most of the opportunity, key groups in our city are coming together to work with the Pac-12, including Force 10 Sports Marketing (affiliated with Storm), Seattle Center, and the SSC. Through this collaborative effort, the event has been scaled to a premiere level. Over the next three years, we hope to see the event grow even larger, providing lifelong memories for participants and filling Seattle with Pac-12 fans from around the country.
In December, the SSC will follow up by hosting the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship. Once again, we’ll be drawing thousands of tourists to the region. And this is just a start. We are committed to more events that capitalize on the business of women’s athletics.
Done correctly, these events will more than enhance our reputation nationally. They will generate tremendous amounts of revenue for our businesses, and drive a greater sense of community for all those involved.
Seattle and the region are in a great spot to host large events, especially women’s events. Women make up the majority of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathon runners in Seattle; the Storm is a consistent force in the WNBA; we have a new professional women’s soccer team, Reign FC; Seattle University women’s basketball is making a big splash in the Western Athletic Conference; and the University of Washington is nationally known for all its sports teams. It is important that this community supports women’s athletics, from the highest level to the youngest girls.
Who knows, you may be watching the next Sue Bird at KeyArena this March, or maybe the future President, a CEO, teacher or a coach. Sports teach young people the skills that lead to future success. It can also provide a healthy lifestyle that can last a lifetime.
Get your tickets now, bring your family, tell a friend. Huskies, Cougs, Beavers, Ducks and all other Pac-12 fans, show your team pride. Support your team. Fill the house. Let’s show the country what a great sports town we live in.
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