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WNBA expansion on the horizon

Oct 2, 2020; Bradenton, Florida, USA; The shoes of Seattle Storm guard Jordin Canada (21) with the WNBA logo during game 1 of the WNBA finals against the Las Vegas Aces at IMG Academy. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

The WNBA is moving ahead with expansion plans and could name one or two cities set for a franchise as soon as September, The Athletic reported Thursday.

Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told The Athletic 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. The league has 12 teams.

The WNBA started with a list of 100 prospective cities for a new franchise and has pared it to about a dozen, Engelbert reported. Priorities for a new franchise include a city’s population, political affiliation and policies, and “generational demographics,” per the report.

While Engelbert didn’t name the cities, The Athletic identified Nashville, Oakland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Toronto and Portland as potential locations.

“There’s no crisp or clear formula, but you see cities that rise to the top pretty quickly,” Engelbert said. “And we’re also looking at our current WNBA franchise cities and comparing what lessons we’ve learned and what’s worked and not worked over the last 25 years. We really want to set up new owners for success.”

Engelbert would not reveal the potential expansion fee to be paid by owners of a new franchise.

–Field Level Media