Commissioner of the WNBA Cathy Engelbert reported on Sunday that the league has narrowed its focus to 10 cities that can host an expansion team. Early on, the WNBA had 100 cities to consider where it did its due diligence.
Earlier this year, Engelbert said the league and she “would want to announce by the end of the year” that those franchises will be revealed, with the aim of having two teams ready to play by the 2025 season.
Engelbert further added:
“We want to make sure the new ownership group is set up for success. So, we will announce it when it’s right when we have reached agreements with different ownership groups. But we continue to work hard on it, but it’s been a pretty intense season, and we’ll work even harder in the offseason.
There are many more logistics that need to be considered rather than just location.
It would help if you found the right owners with the right capital. We have to run an expansion draft, let our GMs know in advance, and head coaches know what that’s going to look like. We are working on all of that.
One of those expansion teams could be in Bay Area. Other cities that can be hot favorites for expansion include Toronto, Philadelphia, and Nashville.
She also stated that the league’s inaugural preseason game would be held in Canada after having a conversation before the COVID-19 pandemic and coming off the collective bargaining agreement in early 2020.
The Atlanta Dream played a preseason game in Manchester, England in 2011, which was the last time the WNBA had internationally. Additionally, the league held a preseason match in Monterrey, Mexico (2004).
Implementing a development league, as the NBA does with the G League, is another option for growth. For the 3×3 format, there is an experimental program called Force 10 that might become a viable path for the WNBA.
She concluded her discussion with the following remarks:
“It’s exciting. It’s outdoors. It’s quick, 10 minutes with a very short shot clock. I know for those that studied it in the Olympics last year in Tokyo and the U.S. winning the first gold medal in that sport ever, it’s the No. 1 most popular urban sport in the word.
“Force 10 has been a leader, and you’ve seen other teams step up to sponsor teams on the 3×3 circuit. I’m really interested in the format, and I could see us piloting it as part of WNBA Live in the future as part of All-Star [weekend].