• Loading stock data...
Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Cathy Engelbert on WNBA Expansion: ‘We Need More Than 12 Teams’

  • Cathy Engelbert has reiterated the WNBA’s need to expand to 13 or 14 teams, with the 2025 season being a target.
  • The commissioner also said the league had spent over $4 million on charter flights this year.
Commissioner Engelbert on expansion: "We need more than 12 teams."
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Commissioner Cathy Engelbert reiterated her focus on WNBA expansion and the league’s charter flight commitment as she spoke at Barclays Center before Sunday’s marquee matchup between the New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces. 

“Obviously, we’re working very hard on expansion,” Engelbert told reporters. “This is really something I think we need to do, not just because of opening up potentially 12 to 24 roster spots, but also with a league that’s the longest-tenured women’s professional league in the country by double any other, we need more than 12 teams.”

Engelbert told Front Office Sports in May that the league’s list for expansion consideration is down to 10 cities to “hopefully work towards expanding in a couple cities by the 2025 season.” Cities under consideration include the Bay Area, Nashville, Toronto, Austin, Denver, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Portland. 

“We need to be in some big cities in this country where all our data and information shows there’s some great markets for WNBA basketball,” Engelbert said Sunday. “We’re excited, capitalizing off NCAA popularity, and hopefully [will] talk more about that as we get further into the season this year.”

The Commissioner emphasized that “there’s no one that wants it more than me” regarding better travel conditions for players. However, getting there will largely depend on increased rights payments from media partners once the WNBA’s current deals end after the 2025 season.

“That’s a whole transformation of an economic model for women’s sports. It’s all about media rights. If you look back in history […] how the men got their benefits and pay, it was all the multi-billion dollar media rights fee deals,” Engelbert said.

She added that the WNBA had spent over $4 million on charter flights this year while players again pleaded for increased charter travel after Brittney Griner’s June incident while flying commercial. Engelbert said last year it would cost more than $20 million a year to fund charter flights for an entire WNBA season. 

“I think we have a lot of qualitative factors that hopefully media companies see the value in partnering with us with the next round of media negotiations,” Engelbert said. “That is when we’ll be able to fund something much bigger, but we’ve been chipping away spending over four million dollars—a lot of money for the W—four million dollars this year on charter.”

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

The NBA’s Final Four May Not Be Exactly What the League Envisioned

This final four will need to lean on its own unique drama to draw big audiences.

Sports World’s Ground Zero: Dallas to Host NBA and NHL Conference Finals

American Airlines Center is the first arena to host NHL, NBA conference finals games in the same season since 2003.

WNBA’s Boom Time: Record Growth, Clark’s Debut, a Controversial Deal

League attendance is up by nearly a third, while the Liberty set a single-game ticketing record.

‘This Is Semi-Pro’: Inside One Arena Football League Team’s Collapse

The collapse of the Georgia Force, as told by the players who lived it.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

The Next Era of the Harlem Globetrotters


Featured Today

Michael Block signs autographs on the 18th hole during day three of practice for the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.

‘I Prefer It This Way’: How Life Works for PGA Club Pros

Here’s how life works for the qualifiers at golf’s second major.
February 5, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; The grounds of the Capitol Building empty out following the conclusion of President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech on February 5, 2019.
May 18, 2024

‘A Breathtaking Lobbying Campaign’: The NCAA’s Sophisticated Effort to Save Amateurism

Inside the carefully coordinated, multimillion-dollar operation to end the athletes’ rights era.
May 14, 2024

The WNBA Was Forged in Houston. Why Won’t It Go Back There?

Houston’s a perfect fit for expansion. The league isn’t considering it yet.
May 9, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) stands with the team during the national anthem on Thursday, May 9, 2024, during the preseason game against the Atlanta Dream at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
May 12, 2024

‘Perfect Storm’: The Rise of Local WNBA Broadcast Pacts

With national attention reaching new heights, regional coverage could dictate the future.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Live Nation
Multiple - USA Careers
Multiple - USA Careers
Multiple - USA Careers

Historic Premier League Season Closes As U.S. Influence Expands

Man City can expect to receive roughly $79 million from the EPL’s system of merit payments.
May 19, 2024

PGA Championship Drama Nearly Delivers a Major Boost to LIV Golf

Xander Schauffele takes home $3.3 million for his victory.
May 20, 2024

WNBA Investigating Las Vegas Tourism Arm’s $100K Payments to Aces Players

The sponsorship is worth more than several players’ salaries.

Major League Rugby’s Vision for American Rugby

How Major League Rugby is leading the Rugby renaissance in the U.S.
May 17, 2024

The WNBA Rookies Are Creating a New Celebrity Row

Major celebs like Kim Kardashian and Latto are showing up for the newbies.
May 16, 2024

Preakness in Spotlight: Chance of a Triple Crown Winner Bolsters Status

The presence of Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan gives a big boost to the Triple Crown’s middle leg.
May 15, 2024

PGA Championship Setting Revenue Records, but LIV Drama Still Looms

The PGA Championship tees off Thursday morning at Valhalla Golf Club.
May 15, 2024

Caitlin Clark Debuts With WNBA’s Most-Watched Game in Decades

The game averaged 2.12 million viewers, the WNBA’s highest since 2001.