Sunday, June 16, 2024

Toronto Becomes First City Outside US to Receive WNBA Franchise, Expansion Team to Debut in 2026

Toronto awarded WNBA franchise, set to begin play in 2026

The WNBA is taking a historic step by awarding its first franchise outside the United States to Toronto. The expansion team is set to begin play in 2026, marking a significant milestone for women’s professional basketball.

Led by Larry Tanenbaum-led Kilmer Sports Ventures, the ownership group is investing $115 million to bring the team to Toronto. Tanenbaum, who also chairs and partially owns Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, saw an opportunity to fill a void in Toronto’s sports landscape by introducing a women’s professional sports team.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert expressed her excitement about expanding the league internationally, stating that it will help reach new audiences and bring in new partnerships. She emphasized the importance of showcasing women’s professional basketball to young girls and boys, highlighting the talent and competition in the sport.

The Toronto franchise will play its home games at the 8,700-seat Coca-Cola Coliseum at Exhibition Place, with the possibility of moving to the larger Scotiabank Arena for select games. The team also plans to play games in Vancouver and Montreal, expanding its reach across Canada.

With the addition of the Toronto team, the WNBA now has 14 franchises, and there are plans to expand to 16 teams by 2028. The league has seen increased interest from cities following recent drafts, indicating a promising future for women’s professional basketball.

Overall, the introduction of the Toronto franchise marks a significant moment for the WNBA as it continues to grow and expand its impact on the global sports community.

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