Monday, June 17, 2024

Toronto to Become First WNBA Franchise Outside US, Expansion Team Ready to Debut in 2026

Toronto Awarded First WNBA Franchise Outside the U.S.

Breaking News: Toronto Awarded First WNBA Franchise Outside the U.S.

In a historic move, Toronto has been awarded the WNBA’s first franchise outside the United States, with the expansion team set to debut in 2026. This exciting development was made possible by Larry Tanenbaum-led Kilmer Sports Ventures, the same group that owns several successful Toronto sports franchises, including the NBA’s Raptors and NHL’s Maple Leafs.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert expressed her enthusiasm for this expansion, stating, “Growing internationally, I’ve been trying to think through next steps on a global platform. It helps us reach new audiences and bring in new partners. The thing I love about going to another country is that the young girls and boys get to see professional basketball for women is important, too.”

The team, yet to be named, will play at the 8,700-seat Coca-Cola Coliseum at Exhibition Place, with the possibility of moving to the Scotiabank Arena for special occasions. Additionally, plans are in place for the team to play games in Vancouver and Montreal, showcasing women’s professional basketball across Canada.

Tanenbaum emphasized the importance of women’s sports in today’s landscape, saying, “Women’s sports is good business. Just look around — it’s not a moment, but a movement and it’s just the beginning. The investment that we’ll put into the franchise will also be no different than the other franchises.”

The team will have a dedicated practice facility, with temporary training taking place at the University of Toronto’s Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport. Engelbert highlighted the passion of Canadian fans for women’s basketball, noting the positive reception during exhibition games in the country in recent years.

With the WNBA’s expansion to Toronto, the commissioner has set a goal of reaching 16 teams by 2028, with several cities expressing interest in joining the league. As the women’s basketball movement gains momentum, the addition of the Toronto franchise marks a significant step forward in promoting gender equality in sports.

Stay tuned for updates on the team’s name and roster as they prepare to make their debut on the international stage in 2026.

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