While the WNBA continues to tip-toe toward eventual expansion, commissioner Cathy Engelbert says it might not happen until 2025.
In an interview published by the Sports Business Journal on Thursday, Engelbert said the league has interest “from probably 10 to 15 cities” after starting with a list of 100 potential candidates.
When posed with the possibility of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors owning a Bay Area team, Engelbert candidly dubbed the Dubs “a top candidate.”
Engelbert told The Athletic in October that a new team or teams could join the WNBA as soon as the 2024 season — the first expansion since the Atlanta Dream’s founding in 2008.
In her latest interview, though, Engelbert tapped the brakes on how quickly an official announcement would come.
“I don’t know if we’ll identify the markets exactly (by the fall),” Engelbert said. “But we will give more on the actual process for ownership groups who are interested in talking further with the league and other teams on what it’s like to start up a team. I’d say we’ll be in that position by year end. Certainly I’d love to get a couple teams in by 2024; but, if it’s 2025, that’s fine, too.”
Engelbert also was noncommittal on her goals for a potential expansion fee to be paid by owners of a new franchise.
“I have a range in my head that’s going to be significant compared to three years ago, when I came in the league, because of our capital raise and just the valuation,” she said. “We got close to a ($500 million league valuation) and then you add in 12 teams, and no matter what your value is, you’re over $1 billion pretty quickly.”
–Field Level Media