Once again the most consistently successful professional team in Atlanta, having qualified for the playoffs in each of the past five seasons, will have to move their home finals games to another venue. The Dream has officially been bumped from Philips Arena for the second time since 2009.
But it's not about winning records as much as it is about dollar and cents.
The Atlanta Dream, three-time WNBA Eastern Conference Champions, will be making its third appearance in the WNBA Finals in four seasons, but must play Game 3 and possibly Game 4, if necessary, of the upcoming best-of-five series of the WNBA Finals against the Minnesota Lynx at The Arena at Gwinnett Center. Philips Arena's "Disney On Ice" is scheduled to open next week, coinciding with the impending playoff series.
Atlanta will open Game 1 of the Finals against the Lynx on Sunday, Oct. 6, at 8:30 p.m. (ET) at the Target Center in Minnesota. Game 2 will also be played in Minnesota on Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. (ET).
The Dream will then host Game 3 of the Finals on Thursday, Oct. 10 at 8:30 p.m. (ET), and if the series runs through to Game 4, will host that on Sunday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. Both games will be played at The Arena in Duluth. If necessary, Game 5 would be played in Minnesota on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. (ET). All games will be nationally televised by either ESPN or ESPN2.
But for the Dream, the move jeopardizes any type of home-court advantage.
According to the Atlanta Dream, the team is not the only WNBA squad to have made the move from their usual home court because of scheduling issues.
"As far as the finals is concerned, during their scheduling, Philips Arena didn't want to omit any of its premier events like 'Disney On Ice,' which is scheduled to open next week," said Brad Gust, Atlanta Dream Media Relations Manager. "I don't pretend to know all the ends and outs, but I do know some of the other WNBA teams from time to time have had to schedule events someplace other than their normal home venues as well.
"It's not an ideal situation, but maybe we can expose some new fans in Gwinnett to the Atlanta Dream. It's just the hand we're dealt." Gust continued.
Trey Feazell, senior vice president, general manager of Philips Arena, says the scheduling of "Disney on Ice" simply predated the Dream's Finals trip.
"Philips Arena is the home of the Atlanta Dream, and we couldn't be happier for their
success in the playoffs," said Feazell. "Due to an engagement that occurs each October and was scheduled nearly a year in advance, we will not be able to host the 2013 WNBA Finals."
In 2009, the first year the Dream qualified for post-season play, the team had to change venues to make room for "Elmo's Green Thumb: Sesame Street Live" at Philips.
This year's Finals, featuring Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry, the league's leading scorer for two consecutive seasons, and Georgia native and 2011 WNBA champion Maya Moore, promises to be a great matchup. In fact, the battle will be a rematch of the 2011 Finals, which was won by Minnesota in a three-game sweep, although all three games were decided by just six points. Minnesota also reached the Finals in 2012, but lost to the Indiana Fever in four games.
Atlanta and Minnesota split the regular-season series, with each team winning on its home court. The Lynx finished the regular season with the league's best record at 26-8 and swept both Seattle and Phoenix to advance to the Finals.
2013 WNBA Finals Schedule
Game 1 - Atlanta at Minnesota, Sunday, Oct. 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Game 2 - Atlanta at Minnesota, Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Game 3 - Minnesota at Atlanta, Thursday, Oct. 10 at 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Game 4* - Minnesota at Atlanta, Sunday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Game 5* - Atlanta at Minnesota, Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)