WNBA Team Move Challenged in Court

     DALLAS (CN) – The majority owner of the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock planned to move the team to Texas to the detriment of his partners, a minority shareholder claims in court.
     W. Stuart Price sued majority owner William Cameron and fellow shareholders Chris Christian, Cameron Sports LLC, CB Hoops LLC, TexasOU LLC and Tulsa Pro Hoops LLC on Monday in Tulsa County Court.
     Price sued hours after Cameron announced his intention to move the Shock to the Dallas-Fort Worth area at the end of the season.
     Price says in the 21-page complaint that he was induced to invest $250,000 in Tulsa Pro Hoops by “unequivocal” assurances that the team would remain in Tulsa subject to an anti-dilution provision in place. He claims Tulsa Pro Hoops (TPH) never informed him about additional membership units being issued or capital contributions made. Price contends he is being denied access to the team’s books.
     The 51-page Tulsa Pro Hoops Operating Agreement, of Aug. 10, 2009, is included as an attachment to the lawsuit.
     “Despite repeated requests, accurate and complete information concerning the members of TPH and when, where, and how they acquired their membership interests has never been disclosed to the members,” the complaint states. “Defendants Cameron and Christian have been, for a period of time unbeknownst to plaintiff, in the process of attempting to relocate the Tulsa Shock to the Dallas, Texas, metropolitan area. The details of the purported relocation process have never been disclosed to, and in fact have been concealed from, the minority members of TPH.”
     Price says a supermajority of the team’s owners and the WNBA’s board of governors must approve any move.
     At a news conference Monday, Price minced no words when he accused Cameron of “ripping the heart” out of Tulsa.
     He said Cameron “deliberately plotted for some time” to move the team to Texas.
     “In my opinion, Bill Cameron set us up,” Price said. “Quite frankly, I’m sorry to say, Bill Cameron, who is a friend of mine, is a big liar. I think we have been wronged in a lot of respects and I think it will play itself out during the litigation.”
     Cameron could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening. In his statement announcing the move, he thanked local investors “who stepped up at a critical time” to help him move the Shock from Detroit in 2010.
     “This is a very difficult decision, and I know it is particularly difficult for the Tulsa investors,” Cameron said Monday. “From a business perspective, it was necessary to evaluate options to place the team and the organization in the best position to achieve financial success. After a thorough review, I believe the Dallas-Fort Worth area holds the greatest potential to achieve our long-term business objectives.”
     Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett wrote a letter to Cameron last week asking him not to move the team. Cameron wrote back, unmoved.
     “As you know, the Shock have experienced consecutive years of operating losses since starting play in Tulsa,” Cameron wrote. “As the majority owner, I have made significant personal investments to keep the team viable the past five years.”
     Mayor Barlett said he will try to persuade league officials to block the move.
     “I’m going to try to contact the president of the WNBA and talk to her and say, ‘This is going to hurt the community,’ especially the young girls that see these players as real, true role models,” Bartlett told the Tulsa World on Monday.
     Price seeks actual damages, accounting and declaratory judgment on a shareholder derivative claim of breach of fiduciary duty, mismanagement, self-dealing, shareholder oppression, breach of contract, misappropriation and conspiracy. He is represented by Joel L. Wohlgemuth with Norman Wohlgemuth in Tulsa.

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