The WNBA announced Thursday that an expansion team affiliated with the Golden State Warriors will begin play in the 2025 season. The team, which has not been given a name yet, will be the first to join the WNBA since the Atlanta Dream in 2008.
Breaking: The WNBA has announced that it has approved the Golden State Warriors to bring an expansion franchise to the Bay Area starting in 2025. pic.twitter.com/oNfIlNmFgu— ESPN (@espn) October 5, 2023
The announcement was met with widespread excitement around the basketball community. The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the largest media markets in the United States without a WNBA franchise, and the financial support of the Warriors means the team has all the resources to hit the ground running.
Golden State will be the 13th WNBA team, and recent reports have indicated that Portland, Ore. is in advanced talks to host the eventual 14th franchise. According to a report from The Athletic, the Portland bid is being led by local billionaire Kirk Brown, and discussions have reached the WNBA’s Board of Governors. If the board approves Portland’s bid, the expansion process would commence.
Portland previously hosted a WNBA team — the Fire joined the league in 2000 before folding in 2002. The Fire hold the distinction of being the only team in WNBA history to never make the playoffs. If Portland gets the expansion team, it would also be the first time the WNBA returns to a city it previously left.
Portland has been an up-and-coming sports city since the start of the 2010s, and would be perfect for a WNBA team. Aside from the NBA’s Trail Blazers and the MLS’s Timbers, both successful franchises, Portland also hosts the National Women’s Soccer League’s Portland Thorns FC. The Thorns, valued at $65 million, are the fourth most valuable NWSL team according to Sportico. They also had the league’s third highest average attendance this year.
WNBA expansion in Golden State and potentially Portland is a strong indicator that the league sees its recent growth as sustainable. Perhaps Golden State and Portland are the beginning of an even bigger expansion process — could cities like Toronto, Kansas City and Houston be next?