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Alana Beard to lead ownership group for proposed WNBA expansion team in Oakland

The retired WNBA player and long-time Washington Mystics guard is looking to the next chapter of her career, this time as a team owner.

Washington Mystics v Indiana Fever
Alana Beard is one step closer to becoming a WNBA team owner, specifically for an expansion franchise in the Bay Area.
Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Alana Beard, a four-time WNBA All-Star with the Washington Mystics during her playing career from 2004-11, is the leader of a group of investors trying to get a WNBA expansion team to Oakland, CA. The announcement was made by the African American Sports & Entertainment Group (AASEG) in Oakland, CA.

In a statement, Beard said “I’m grateful for this opportunity and excited to help bring a WNBA team to Oakland. The AASEG has done an incredible job of getting us to this point and has garnered tremendous support from influencers in the local community. I am hopeful our vision, passion and collective efforts will lead to the return of professional basketball in Oakland.”

The other members in the investment group include Jade Smith-Williams as counsel, Shonda Scott and Samantha Wise. The intent of the AASEG isn’t just so there is a WNBA team in Oakland and the Bay Area. It’s also so there is a majority African American ownership group, which would be the case here. There is also significant buy-in from the City of Oakland. Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan has been one of the local politicians involved in this process. She was interviewed by Winsider’s Myles Ehrlich and Dani Bar-Lavi last summer on where the process at that time.

There will be a press conference on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET when Beard and the AASEG will discuss further details. Besides the question on when this team could begin play, another question is whether is a second market the WNBA wants to expand to in addition to the Bay Area.

WNBA team expansion is a hot discussion topic among fans. The league has grown in popularity throughout its 25-year history, but there haven’t been any expansions or contractions since 2009. The WNBA has shown resiliency as a group of 12 teams since then, but it’s also limiting the exposure by not being in more markets. Finally, it’s arguably becoming too difficult for some first round draft picks to make a roster when there’s a limit of 12 players per team.

In my opinion, I think it is time for the WNBA to expand. But the market expansion process is likely taking more time than simply getting a few investors to want a team. In the meantime, I want see the number of roster spots increase to 14 per team from 12. That’s 24 additional players before any team expansion, effectively two WNBA team rosters’ worth of players with the 12 player limit.

In summary, I’m happy to see that there is significant movement toward a new WNBA team, and that one of the Mystics’ all-time greats will be the face of their ownership group. Congratulations, Alana!