WNBA expansion seems to always be a topic of discussion around the league.
This past weekend was no different. As the WNBA tips off the second half of its season, add expansion to the list of topics on the minds of players and the league.
For several years, Engelbert has said the league would expand when the time was right and the 12 current teams were in good standing financially. The league hasn’t had an expansion franchise since Atlanta in 2008. Both Las Vegas and Dallas were existing franchises that relocated.
While no specific cities have been named as possible expansion locations, Engelbert mentioned the success of the preseason game in Toronto between Chicago and Minnesota that drew nearly 20,000 fans.
“We were thrilled with the outcome there,” she said. “We’re still talking about it. There’s still a lot of buzz, and we appreciate our counterparts in Canada making it so successful.”
But Engelbert says it’s not just picking the right cities. What’s more important is finding ownership groups that would be a good fit for the league. Las Vegas owner Mark Davis has been a welcome addition, investing in the defending champion Aces, including building a new state-of-the-art practice facility.
During all-star weekend, Engelbert said the league should have some expansion news later this season.
“Our conversations with potential ownership groups are headed in the right direction,” the commissioner said.
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While the league is looking for the right ownership groups, players aren’t so quick to want expansion, feeling there are other things that the league should be focused on such as travel and salary benefits.
“I feel like we have some holes that we can work on currently,” said Aces guard Kelsey Plum, who is the first vice president of the WNBA Players Association. “We can do a better job of figuring out ways to fix some of the current issues we have coming up.”
Plum knows the league needs to expand its footprint, but believes players need to be treated better first.
“I understand expansion is important, I understand growing the league, I understand growing in cities, and I do think that’s something to come,” Plum said. “I don’t think that should take precedence over charter flights. I don’t think that should take precedence over salary benefits.”