Remade Dream reaps benefits of winning

Progress for the Dream may be slow, recalling that this franchise won just four games last season. But there are positive signs in Year Two.

The team's record is already better. Attendance figures are up in certain areas. Heck, even ticket requests from opposing teams have become a lot to handle.

The Dream, 6-7 after Tuesday's 72-67 victory over Connecticut, have already won more games this season than in their entire inaugural campaign. This season, win No. 4 came on June 26. Last season, win No. 4 didn't come until Sept. 11.

The win total is a direct result of a refitted roster. Currently, only five players remain from last year.

"At the start of the year, this was a better roster," said Jennifer Lacy, one of the returnees. "I just think that everybody comes out with the mindset that we are going to be better than last year."

"We've already proven we have a better team this year than last year," new addition Michelle Snow said. "We are contending for a playoff spot. We've done a complete U-turn in a year's time."

Overall, attendance is down from 2008 with a decline in season-ticket holders. That might have been expected due to the economy, said Dream President and CEO Bill Bolen. However, group sales and walk-up attendance is up. That's a good sign.

"Winning matters in Atlanta," said Bolen, who expects attendance to increase in late July and August. "It's amazing that in Year Two, we have put a winning product on the court."

The Dream have also taken advantage of their southern flavor. The additions of University of Tennessee players Chamique Holdsclaw and Snow, Georgia's Coco Miller and North Carolina's Ivory Latta are visible — and audible — at Philips Arena. Suffice to say, there is a lot of orange in the building. Lacy admitted the noticeable number of Tennessee fans is something that has become a good-natured joke within the team.

"Tennessee fans have always been loyal," Snow said. "Even internationally, they come up to you at games. It's no surprise to see them here in Atlanta."

Other fans have noticed, but it's still about the success on the court.

"They've made tremendous improvement. They've recruited more talented players," said Sharon Mudd of Decatur, a court-side season ticket holder for both seasons.

"I'd like to see them do well to bring out more fans. (Players from southern colleges) is a drawing card. They went for talent first, but it's definitely a drawing card."

The Dream have even brought out some stars. NBA players Josh Smith and Dwight Howard have been courtside at several games. Falcons defensive end John Abraham was in attendance Tuesday.

The number of WNBA players who played collegiately in the southeast is reflected in Dream ticket requests.

Normally in the WNBA, a team has a traveling party of 16 and is allotted 32 tickets. According to Tonya Alleyne, the Dream's public relations director, last season the Dream would give between 40 and 80 additional tickets to the opposing team.

This season the team capped the additional tickets at 40 with an option to buy discounted tickets.

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