In Cathy Engelbert’s All-Star Game press conference this past weekend, the WNBA commissioner expressed her desire to add expansion teams to the 12-team league. She indicated she’s, “hoping that it’ll be a couple teams by no later than ’25, but I’d love it in ’24.” Engelbert said the league is analyzing about 100 cities as potential expansion destinations.
Cities on the list still a mystery
While she didn’t elaborate too much on the list of cities, she did confirm that Philadelphia is being looked at. I’d be surprised if cities that already house an NBA team, such as Toronto, San Fransisco, and Portland, Oregon, are not on the list as well.
Which factors matter when choosing a city?
Adding an expansion team to any league is not a quick and seamless process. There’s no dart being blindly thrown at a map to determine which city gets the next team. Among the factors the WNBA is using in choosing the best locations are, “psychographics, demographics, arena, NCAA fandom, current WNBA fandom, merch sales, viewership.” I’d be confident in also adding current NBA fandom to that list, as it may not be the best option to plant a team in a city where fans don’t attend their NBA team’s games (Sacramento, Oklahoma City).
An expansion team has certainly been long-awaited for the WNBA. It’s been 14 years since the Atlanta Dream joined the league and no other team has joined since. As the demand for women’s basketball continues to increase, adding a team or two to the WNBA just makes sense.