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Raiders, Aces' Mark Davis Annoyed About Choosing Between WNBA Finals, NFL Opener

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 9, 2022

Mark Davis (Getty Images/Set Number: X164119 TK1)

Mark Davis, owner of the NFL's Las Vegas Raiders and WNBA's Las Vegas Aces, isn't happy he'll have to choose between his two franchises Sunday.

The Aces open the 2022 WNBA Finals at home against the Connecticut Sun at 3 p.m. ET and the Raiders kick off the regular season with a road game against the Los Angeles Chargers at 4:25 p.m. ET.

Davis told Nancy Armour of USA Today he isn't a fan of the WNBA's scheduling decision for its marquee series.

"We don't have the eyeballs. Well how in the hell are you going to get eyeballs when you're going up against the opening day of the National Football League?" Davis said. "That part is tough."

He added: "It makes no sense. It doesn't make any sense."

In all, three of the WNBA Finals' potential five games will face NFL competition. Game 3 will take place opposite the Chargers vs. the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday and Game 4 (if necessary) will be up against the Week 2 Sunday slate of NFL games.

The questionable Finals schedule comes after a year when the WNBA made progress in improving its reach among fans.

Sports Media Watch reported leaguewide TV ratings were up 19 percent over last season and an August game between the Aces and Seattle Storm attracted 852,000 viewers, the most for a WNBA game in 14 years.

It's unclear why the league scheduled much of the Finals up against the NFL, but there are a lot of factors involved, including travel and the available ESPN/ABC broadcast space.

Of course, the NFL also takes place on Monday nights and college football occupies Saturday, so it would be hard to craft a schedule without some level of sports competition.

Davis, who likened his decision to a parent having to choose between watching his two children, told Armour it's important to give the WNBA a fighting chance.

"We have the greatest athletes in the world at what they do," he said. "We need people to invest in the game. ... If we invest in the product, it will come back to us in multiples."

He noted his current plan calls for attending the Raiders game on Sunday and Game 4 of the Aces' championship pursuit next weekend.

"It's absolutely a tough decision because I want to make this clear: The Aces are not a hobby," Davis, who purchased the team in 2021, said. "It's a real deal for me."

Both Las Vegas and Connecticut are seeking their first WNBA championship.

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