First-ever WNBA Canada Game Set for May 13 to Feature the Minnesota Lynx vs. the Chicago Sky in Toronto
The WNBA announced today that the first WNBA Canada Game is set for Saturday, May 13, in Toronto, at Scotiabank Arena, the home of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors. The game marks the league’s first-ever preseason game north of the U.S. border.
The Minnesota Lynx, with two Canadian natives on its roster, Natalie Achonwa and Bridget Carleton, will play the Chicago Sky, the 2021 WNBA champions. Chicago features three former WNBA Finals MVPs: Kahleah Copper, Candace Parker, and Emma Meesseman.
Two previous WNBA preseason games have been played outside the United States: the Detroit Shock (now the Dallas Wings) played the San Antonio Silver Stars (now the Las Vegas Aces) in Monterrey, Mexico in 2004. Atlanta played the Great Britain women’s basketball team in Manchester, England in 2011.
“We are looking forward to participating in this historic game for the WNBA,” Minnesota head coach and Basketball Operations President Cheryl Reeve said in a statement. She was on the Detroit coaching staff at the 2004 preseason exhibition in Mexico. “The league’s global popularity has shown incredible growth, and I am pleased our team will be a part of continuing to pave the path for the WNBA by bringing our game to Canada.”
During a Zoom media call, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told reporters how important it is to hold the May preseason game in Canada.
“We were about to announce having a game in Canada in March of 2020, but Covid shut down all sports at the time,” recalled Engelbert. Minnesota and Chicago were selected to play in that game, she added.
“Obviously, we love to have a team that has Canadian players on it, which Minnesota does with Natalie and with Bridget,” the commissioner pointed out. Furthermore, with the Sky’s star power – they were 2022 WNBA Commissioner’s Cup runners-up, and the Lynx’s storied franchise history (four championships from 2011 through 2017), “this seemed to be a great matchup,” Engelbert said.
Canada also has a huge fan base, which Engelbert stressed as another reason to stage the game in Toronto. The city is home to several professional sports teams. The NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs also play at Scotiabank Arena.
“We’ve seen record WNBA viewership over the last two seasons,” Engelbert reported. “I’m told we have over five million WNBA fans in the country. So, we’re excited to bring a boon to those fans … globalizing the WNBA game has been a key pillar of how we’re trying to grow the league.”
League games also have been available for Canadian fans through streaming services, NBA TV, and Sportsnet, among other media sources, said Engelbert. “We’re broadening the exposure of the game, not only in Canada but around the world. I think women’s basketball is so becoming so popular around the globe.”
“We’re just excited to see the passion for the game in Canada,” Engelbert said. She added that the May 13 game also can serve as a measurement source “to assess the popularity of the sport in Canada.”
“We’re really excited to do this to see what the support is,” she concluded. “I know that this market is hugely into women’s sports.”
Ticket information and the start time for the WNBA Canada Game will be announced later. The game will air in Canada on Sportsnet and TSN and will be available to U.S. fans via WNBA League Pass.