Philadelphia 76ers co-owner David Adelman has offered to invest in bringing an expansion WNBA team to Philadelphia as part of a group led by comedian Wanda Sykes. However, the billionaire real estate mogul cautioned that the NBA does not want NBA majority team owners also to be controlling owners in WNBA teams.
“Wanda Sykes is kind of leading the group looking to do the WNBA team. I’ve been deeply involved in discussions with them. I’ve offered to personally invest,” Adelman told Crossing Broad Sports. “We feel strongly, and the NBA feels strongly, that the control owner of a WNBA team shouldn’t be an NBA owner. […] This rhetoric of the Sixers owning the WNBA team, I would just tell you that’s not where the league wants this to go. They want it to be another person where it’s what they’re getting up and thinking about every day.”
Five of the 12 current WNBA teams share ownership with their NBA counterparts—the Minnesota Lynx, New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, Indiana Fever, and Washington Mystics.
The Athletic reported in 2022 that Sykes was part of a group formed to bring a WNBA team to Philadelphia. Adelman, who Forbes estimated to have $2 billion net worth, also said his potential investment in a WNBA team would hinge on the 76ers owning its proposed new arena rather than its current lease with Comcast’s Wells Fargo Center that ends in 2031.
“I’m not going to bring a WNBA team right now and sign a second lease at the Wells Fargo Center. I’m already having issues in my current lease,” he said on Crossing Broad Sports.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert wants two expansion teams for the 2025 season, with the Bay Area, Toronto, Philadelphia, Denver, Nashville, Charlotte, and Austin being mentioned as possibilities. Adelman, who purchased a 10% stake in Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment last year, thinks Toronto and Oakland will be the next cities to get WNBA teams.
“If you talk to Cathy (Engelbert), the commissioner, they’ve kind of signaled that the next round of expansion, and no one’s quoted this, looks like Toronto and Oakland,” Adelman said. “I think that will be 2024 or 2025. You’re talking ’27, ’28, or ’29 until they’re even going to do the next round of expansion teams. So I’m not sure why we’re getting all stirred up. But on a personal level, I’ve committed that I’d throw some money into the deal because I think it’s important.”