WNBA expansion plans narrowed to 10 cities with the goal to announce by the end of the year

LAS VEGAS — The WNBA goes to broaden. Exactly when and the place these new franchises will likely be is getting nearer to being a actuality.

(*10*) Cathy Engelbert mentioned Sunday, earlier than the Las Vegas Aces took a 1-0 collection lead in the WNBA Finals, the league has narrowed its focus to “about 10” cities that might host an expansion group. The WNBA had not less than 100 cities into consideration the place it did its due diligence, Engelbert mentioned.

In regard to when these groups may very well be introduced, Engelbert mentioned she and the league “would love to announce by the end of the year.” Earlier this year, Engelbert mentioned the goal is 2 groups that might begin taking part in no later than the 2025 season.

“We need to be certain that the new possession group is about up for achievement. So we’ll announce it when it is proper, when we’ve got reached agreements with totally different possession teams,” Engelbert mentioned Sunday. “But we proceed to work arduous on it, however it’s been a reasonably intense season and we’ll work even more durable in the offseason.”

There are further logistics different than simply location that want to be found out.

“You want to discover the proper house owners with the proper capital,” Engelbert mentioned. “We have to run an expansion draft, we’ve got to let our GMs know upfront and head coaches what that is going to appear like. We are engaged on all of that. We have work streams round all of that.”

One of these expansion groups may very well be in the Bay Area. Yahoo Sports reported this summer season on a bid by the African American Sports & Entertainment Group (AASEG) that facilities round the Oakland Coliseum Complex.

“Certainly the Bay Area, usually, together with Oakland or San Francisco, is actually on our listing, excessive on our listing,” Engelbert mentioned. “… The W is all over the place proper now. But such a fantastic market on the market given girls’s faculty basketball [is] very talked-about in the Bay Area. Yes, that is positively on the listing.”

Other cities that may very well be front-runners for an expansion group: Toronto, Philadelphia and Nashville.

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert speaks throughout a information convention earlier than the 2022 WNBA Finals on Sept. 11, 2022 in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Engelbert introduced the league would maintain its first-ever preseason recreation in Canada subsequent season after beforehand having discussions earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic and coming off the most up-to-date collective bargaining settlement in early 2020.

“I believe the ease of the journey there throughout, once more, an intense coaching camp time that we had made Canada engaging to us, and once more, it is the demographics and youth and variety of the nation in some of these cities is the motive why we “I’ll begin there,” Engelbert mentioned. “But we might love to recover from to Europe, Asia, do an EMEA, do an Asian tour sooner or later in the future as we construct the economics of this league and the success of these gamers’ world manufacturers.”

The WNBA final performed internationally in 2011 when the Atlanta Dream performed a preseason recreation in Manchester, England. The league additionally hosted a preseason recreation in Monterrey, Mexico (2004).

Another route for expansion could be the implementation of a growth league, similar to the NBA has with the G League. There is a pilot program, Force 10, for the 3×3 format that might turn into a viable pathway for the WNBA.

“It’s thrilling. It’s open air. It’s fast, 10 minutes with a really quick shot clock,” Engelbert mentioned. “I do know for many who studied it in the Olympics final year in Tokyo and the US successful the first gold medal in that sport ever, it is the No. 1 hottest city sport in the world.

“… Force 10 has been a pacesetter, and you have seen different groups step up to sponsor groups on the 3×3 circuit. I’m actually thinking about the format, and I might see us piloting it as half of WNBA Live in the future as half of All-Star [weekend].”

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