Portland Is Out As A WNBA Expansion Site

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WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner speaks at a news conference, Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Portland could be in the mix for a future expansion team.

The Women’s National Basketball Association has given up, for the immediate future, adding a team in Portland, Oregon. The reason? A Portland team would not have a suitable arena available for basketball for several years as the city’s present arena is undergoing summer renovations and the WNBA is a summer league. The league apparently wanted Portland as its 14th franchise but there is no shortage of potential owners who are willing to run a WNBA franchise in places such as Nashville, Toronto, Austin, Denver, Charlotte and Philadelphia. In October, the WNBA did add a 13th team when it awarded San Francisco a franchise that will begin play in 2025. In spring 2023, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Englebert said. “We need to be in some big cities in this country where all our data and information shows there’s some great markets for WNBA basketball.” Portland was one of those cities that the WNBA targeted. In fact, Portland seemed to be the top market for the 14th franchise.

Engelbert sent a letter to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden that read Portland’s potential expansion team had been “deferred” despite Portland being identified as “an ideal destination for a WNBA franchise.” Englebert wrote the arena renovations was the culprit and claimed that the upgrades “anticipated to take place during consecutive summers” was a major concern. Portland, according to Englebert, is now out of the running for an expansion team “until the timing and scope of arena improvements are settled.” In October Englebert said, “We have to be very thoughtful in the way we’re thinking about it. Now it’s whether we can find the right, as you say, the right mix of the ownership group with the arena situation and everything else that’s important as part of long-term investing in women’s sports and in a WNBA team.” Portland was not the right situation.

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WNBA Commissioner Cathy Englebert left applauding Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson who was named the 2022 WNBA Most Valuable Player.