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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Can Toronto Seal Deal On WNBA Expansion?

  • The WNBA sold out its first-ever game in Canada.
  • Toronto is on a shortlist of cities under consideration for expansion teams.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

In the aftermath of Toronto’s rousing success as host for a preseason WNBA game this past weekend, talk of the league’s expansion to Canada is quickly gaining steam.

The sellout crowd for the Minnesota Lynx-Chicago Sky matchup at Scotiabank Arena, home of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, showed that North America’s appetite for women’s sports only continues to grow.

If the WNBA can sell out an exhibition game in Toronto, it seemingly would want to enter the market as soon as possible. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said Toronto is indeed on a short list of cities the league is considering for expansion, but still won’t lay out a timeline for any decisions. 

Engelbert previously said the league is now targeting 2025 for any expansion teams to enter the league, after originally hoping for 2024. The WNBA wants to give any new league franchises 18-24 months to prepare business and basketball operations. 

Toronto appears to be battling with cities like Nashville, Oakland, and San Francisco as the top contenders for potential expansion teams. Location and club amenities will certainly be a factor in choosing the right spot for the WNBA, which has worked hard to give its players better working conditions, as with the expansion of its charter-flight program.

As for price, the WNBA will want to charge as much as possible for an expansion fee. 

Earlier this year, the Seattle Storm received a valuation of $151 million after new investment — far and away the highest figure in the league.

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