WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, along with Warriors Owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, announced the Golden State Warriors are granted an expansion team. Commissioner Engelbert confirmed there will be a 14th WNBA team in 2025.
SAN FRANSISCO — On Thursday Afternoon, the WNBA officially announced they will grant the Golden State Warriors an expansion team, starting in 2025. Several members of the media were in attendance, including Warriors Owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, Brandon Schneider, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, and Mayor London Breed. Tara VanDerveer, the winningest coach in women's basketball history was also in attendance. A monumental day for the WNBA and women's sports, the league will get its thirteenth team. Although there isn't an official name for the team, this will be the WNBA's first expansion team since the Atlanta Dream in 2008.
Since being named WNBA Commissioner in 2019, Cathy Engelbert admitted there's been speculation around expansion for quite some time. Stating timing is everything, Engelbert expressed "the right time, the right moment is today. I am very pleased to announce that the WNBA is coming to the Bay Area."
After carefully considering several markets, Engelbert stuck to her structural plan, which included "three consistent pillars when evaluating the data for an expansion team." With the trajectory of increasing growth of the league, Commissioner Engelbert cares deeply about the quality of investors, along with state-of-the-art facilities for players.
First, "A team in a city that provides a platform for deep and innovative fan engagement, " said Engelbert. Second, "Has a clear path for stakeholder and franchise success." Third, the WNBA was looking for investors and a city that "could add value to the current WNBA content, media, and entertainment footprint."
The San Fransisco Bay Area is the perfect market
After a meticulous decision, the WNBA has expanded into one of the most populated areas in sports. "The San Fransisco Bay Area has proven to meet the mark and well exceed the market in each of those three areas." Engelbert said in the presser. She stated, "The Bay Area is firmly aligned with our already strong fan base of diverse and engaged basketball fans.
Engelbert strongly declared the importance of longevity and committed investors. "It's really important that you're bringing in long term owners, committed to the success, not just the team and winning championships, but to the league overall, " said the Commissioner.
One of the biggest tech markets, Engelbert stated San Fransico not having a WNBA team "didn't seem right" to her. "I think if you look at the San Fransisco Bay Area, you look at the demographics and psychographics, and you look at our current fan base here, but also nationally. "That's why I thought this market would be so great. The data proves it out, but also this ownership team, these operators, and all of the leverage off the huge success of the Golden State Warriors. "
They are the home to several winning sports organizations
With increasing NCAA popularity among women's basketball, the Bay Area is the home to six Division 1 Women's Basketball programs. Capitalizing off that success, "10 million people watched that NCAA Final Four March Madness game for the women last year." The San Fransisco Bay Area is the home to several winning franchises, which include the Golden State Warriors and San Fransisco 49ers. Led by former Quarterback Joe Montana, the 49ers have five Super Bowl Championships in franchise history. The San Fransisco Giants have three world series wins since 2010. Most impressive, Owner Joe Lacob helped end the Warriors 40-year championship drought, in which the organization has six NBA Championships in franchise history. Four of those six titles came since the 2014-2015 season.
This has always been a "dream" for Warriors owner Joe Lacob
Joe Lacob is ecstatic to bring a WNBA team to the Bay Area 🤩 pic.twitter.com/VoWQMPjskS— espnW (@espnW) October 5, 2023
During the press conference, Cathy Engelbert was sure to thank Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber for their "unwavering commitment and dedication." Warriors Mangement, including Brandon Schneider makes the organization a prime destination for the W. "The whole Staff here at the Golden State Warriors [Lacob Guber, Schneider] and the whole staff here at the Golden State Warriors— the core values of teamwork, integrity, and excellence makes them an ideal fit for the WNBA," said Engelbert.
Part owner of the Golden State Warriors since 2010, Joe Lacob always envisioned bringing professional sports to the Bay Area. With a history of investing in women's sports, Lacob was a founding partner in the American Basketball League, specifically the San Jose Lasers.
Joe Lacob always envisioned bringing women's basketball to the Bay Area
"There was a league called the ABL, the American Basketball League", said Lacob. " I was a founding partner of, owned a big chunk of it, and owned the San Jose Lasers. It was doing really well, and then the WNBA came in and kind of superseded us, I guess you can say, and we lost that league."
Excited to call the Bay Area home once again for women's basketball, Lacob is "fulfilling a dream" that he's always had for women's basketball. Dedicated to his venture, Lacob doubled down on his championship aspirations. "We will win a championship in the first five years," Lacob stated. "I'm telling you right now, we will win a WNBA championship in the first five years of this franchise."
Brandon Schneider, President and Chief Operating Officer for the Warriors praised ownership. He acknowledged Peter and Joe brought a championship to Golden State in the first five year of ownership. "I mean look at Joe, first thing five years, we did it once, now we're going to do it again, " said Schneider. "So, it starts with the leadership from Joe and Peter at the vision, always giving us all the resources that we need to be successful on and off the court." We're looking forward to taking what we've learned operating the Warriors over the last several years and applying that to our W team."
The Warriors have state of the art facilities
Prior to the start of the 2019-2020 season, the Golden State Warriors relocated from Oakland to the Chase Center in San Fransisco. Costing $1.4 billion to construct, the facility is the home of the Warriors, as well as occasional games for the University of San Fransisco.
"And then the arena, I mean the Chase Center, a state of the art," said Engelbert. Highlighting that she visited the area in 2020, she's "admired what this ownership team has done and what this leadership team has done."
Brandon Scheider commented on the importance of facilities and is grateful for "Dub Nation" support around the world. "Our WNBA Players need to have the best facility just like our NBA players have. We're really fortunate to have the facility in Oakland. We will have one of the best practice facilities in in the WNBA, in addition to practicing at the facility in Oakland." The front office and business will be handled and housed in Oakland.
Charter flights, along with elite practice facilities have often been a discussion amongst athletes in the WNBA. Prior to her free agency signing with the Las Vegas Aces, Candace Parker mentioned she's "never had a locker in her WNBA career." Dedicated facilities and locker rooms will remain a focal point in attracting free agents.
Haven given over $30 million to educational nonprofit organizations in Oakland, the Warriors management feel "having a WNBA team practice, headquarters there will only serve to amplify the work they are doing in the community."
The Mayor of San Fransisco is ecstatic for the expansion
In attendance this afternoon was San Fransisco Mayor London Breed.
"I don't know if anyone in this room is more excited than I am that we are finally getting a WNBA team to play in San Fransisco, to practice in Oakland," said Mayor Breed. " She was quick to point out that the area wasn't always glorious, and went through a period of desolation.
"What happened in Mission Bay, the neighborhood we are in, it used to be railroad tracks. There was a golf shooting range, and an outlet. This neighborhood was nothing," claimed the mayor. Mayor Breed credits new housing construction and the Warriors to economic and community growth. She states the "visionary leadership" is about the community, as well as the team and the fans. "It has really brought a lot of joy and a lot of life to a neighborhood once neglected. What it will do for our restaurant's, our businesses, and what it will do for San Fransisco and our economy."
The Numbers do not lie
The WNBA is growing at a rate it's never seen before. " Women's basketball in general is taking off, women's sports in general is taking off," said Lacob.
After a historic 2023 season, the WNBA had record viewership and attendance. "This is a thrilling time for the WNBA as the longest tenure women's professional sports league in the United States," said Engelbert. " We've just concluded our 27th regular season. We saw record breaking viewership, attendance, and digital engagement."
Viewership is up 21 percent in such Networks, including ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, and CBS. The W had the highest attendance in thirteen years and was the most watched season in 21 years.
The WNBA aims to add a 14th team
The WNBA is set to have a total of thirteen teams, a number the league has only seen for a total of three seasons. The playoff format works, given the top eight teams make the postseason. With that said, Commissioner Cathey Engelbert has vocalized their vision of an addition team.
"13 is a lucky number by the way, " said the W Commissioner. "Our goal, this is a team to start up in 2025. Our goal is to have 14 teams by 2025 as well. I've been traveling to difference cities. We're in discussions and continued discussions, productive conversations with several other cities." Engelbert named Sacramento, Portland, Denver Toronto, Philadelphia, and Charlotte as all potential cities.
Engelbert mentioned there have been several changes to the league since the expansion of the Atlanta Dream in 2008. With a committee, the WNBA will have an expansion draft, which the Commissioner will further address.
With two expansion teams, comes more roster spots, which is an importance for the league. One of the hardest leagues to enter, the Commissioner stated, "many of our draft picks do not make a team, even first round draft picks in some instances." The addition of two teams will add up to 24 potential roster spots, which is crucial with expanding NCAA popularity. "This is partially to give new opportunities to that next generation coming out of the NCAA system and then maybe some players that didn't make teams this year."
When asked if a name or color scheme has been chosen, Warrior's ownership stated they haven't solidified anything. "I wish I had an answer for you. We don't know yet, but we will soon. We're going to look at everything," said Lacob. The owner expressed the team will "be a reflection of the entirety of the Bay Area in some way."
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Sara Jane Gamelli is a full-time Sportswriter at Ballislife, and a Sports Content Creator on Twitch and TikTok. She has a focus on the NBA, WNBA, NCAA Basketball, and the NFL. Sara Jane currently resides in Connecticut with her Cat and Dog. SJ has her undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut in Economics, with a minor in business administration.Tweets by BallislifeBets