SEATTLE — The hot dogs, the bobbleheads and the first-round draft picks aren't doing the job, so the Seattle Storm is trying a new way to get fans in the door: a money-back guarantee.
The Storm had the worst attendance in the WNBA last season, and fan numbers continue to dwindle. The team can't count on its performance to draw enthusiasm either. It's 4-5 this season and had the league's worst records in 2000 and 2001.
It lost by 12 points to the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday, in a game where the 2001 No. 1 draft pick Lauren Jackson scored in the wrong basket after rebounding a missed free throw.
So for three games today, Sunday and Thursday, fans who are not satisfied with their experience at the games will be refunded their ticket price.
That's for any reason: poor play, benched superstars or even lousy food.
But there is a catch.
Refunds will only be provided each night for half an hour after the game, so fans must stay through the entire game. Dissatisfied customers who are at least 18 must fill out a short feedback form to receive the refund. And the Storm will not refund any money for parking, service charges or hot dogs.
Head coach and general manager Lin Dunn said the team is confident it can deliver a fun, exciting experience for new fans.
"It seems like a great opportunity for people who have never seen a Storm game. It's a win-win situation," she said. "If you don't like it, don't come back, but at least give it a try."
The WNBA team's management is struggling to attract new fans. The team averaged only 5,954 fans a game last season. Attendance is even lower this season at an average 5,224 fans a game.
The Storm, which is co-owned by Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz, is willing to take some risks to increase its fan base, Vice President Karen Bryant said.
Money-back guarantees are common in the business world, but Bryant said she knew of no other sports team with similar deals. The Atlanta Hawks are offering a $125 rebate to season ticket holders if the team does not make the playoffs.
The team decided to try the guarantee after the June 6 game against Charlotte, when the team had a 3-1 record, but only 3,927 fans attended.
"Given where we are and our willingness to try anything to get fans out, it sounded compelling," Bryant said.
The Storm plays Indiana today, Sacramento Sunday and Orlando Thursday.