WNBA president Lisa Borders says players deserve more, but league can’t afford it

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WNBA President Lisa Borders speaks to the crowd after the 2017 WNBA All-Star Game July 22, 2017 at Key Arena. (Kjell Redal / The Seattle Times)

The WNBA has seen growth in television viewership and merchandise sales this season, but the 22-year-old league is unable to increase the revenue split between owners and players, President Lisa Borders said.

“We do not have the revenue today to support greater revenue sharing with our players, but it’s coming,” Borders said Friday before Game 1 of the WNBA Finals. “We agree that they (players) should be paid more.

“We challenge society. We challenge corporations. We challenge our sponsors. We love what we’re doing today, but we need to do more.”

Several players have griped about league salaries, a revenue split they say is inequitable and the travel difficulties.

The WNBA pays players roughly 20 percent of total league revenue, according to a Forbes report. By comparison, the NBA splits revenue 50-50.

Despite a 31 percent increase in television viewership and a 66 percent spike in merchandise sales, Borders said the league is unable to accommodate the player’s concerns.

Borders indicated the WNBA is still relatively young compared to the NBA, which is 72 years old. The NFL has been around for 98 years and Major League Baseball is in its 125th season.

“Give us a minute,” Borders said. “We will get the traction that everybody else has gotten, but it takes time to build the brand. It takes time to build fans.

The WNBA player’s association will have the chance to opt out of their current collective bargaining agreement after the season.


Friday’s game attracted Governor Jay Inslee, musician Macklemore, San Antonio Spur Dejounte Murray, NBA player Jamal Crawford, former Washington Husky Nate Robinson and former Sonic Slick Watts.

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com. . Seattle Times staff reporter Percy Allen covers the Washington Huskies and Seattle Storm.