A new WNBA team comes to the San Francisco Bay Area
After years of rumors and dashed hopes for fans, the WNBA announced the addition of an expansion team in the San Francisco Bay Area. The addition will bring the number of teams in the league to 13, three shy of the most franchises to ever exist in the league.
The team will be owned by Golden State Warriors Co-Executive Chairman and CEO Joe Lacob and Co-Executive Chairman Peter Guber. Lacob has hinted for years that he wants a WNBA team in the Bay Area.
“We are thrilled about expanding to the Bay Area and bringing the WNBA to a region with passionate basketball fans and a strong history of supporting women’s basketball,” said WNBA Commissioner Engelbert. “Joe Lacob, Peter Guber and their leadership team know how to build and operate a world-class organization, as witnessed by the immense success the Warriors’ franchise has enjoyed from both a business and basketball perspective over the last decade. Their interest in joining the WNBA family is yet another sign of the league’s growth potential.”
The team will play at Chase Center, the home of the Warriors, and practice at the Warriors’ venue in Oakland.
“The Bay Area is the perfect market for a WNBA team, and we are thrilled this opportunity has finally come to fruition,” said Warriors Co-Executive Chairman & CEO Joe Lacob. “We have been interested in a WNBA franchise for several years, due in part to the rich history of women’s basketball in the Bay Area, and believe now is the ideal time to execute that vision and build upon the legacy. The WNBA continues to solidify itself as the preeminent women’s professional basketball league, and we look forward to supporting the best women’s basketball players in the world and our team starting in 2025.”
In the past several days the league hinted at expansion with posts on social media. The last time the league added an expansion team was in 2008 when the Atlanta Dream came into existence. The state used to have three WNBA teams. The Los Angeles Sparks, an original franchise, is still in existence. However, the Sacramento Monarchs, another team that began play in the league’s inaugural season in 1997, folded in 2009.
The league began play in 1997 with eight teams. Five of those teams are now defunct or relocated:
- Charlotte Sting (1997–2006)
- Cleveland Rockers (1997–2003)
- Houston Comets (1997–2008)
- Sacramento Monarchs (1997–2009)
- Utah Starrz (2003–2017) (relocated to San Antonio then to Las Vegas)
Other defunct or relocated teams:
- Detroit Shock (1998–2009, relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma)
- Orlando Miracle (1999–2002, relocated to Uncasville, Connecticut)
- Miami Sol (2000–2002)
- Portland Fire (2000–2002)
- Tulsa Shock (2010–2015, relocated to Arlington, Texas)
- San Antonio Stars (2003–2017, relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada)
With 12 roster spots per team, the league currently has a place for just 144 players. The lack of spots has been a point of concern for players and the players’ union, the WNBPA. The union weighed in on the expansion with the following statement:
Today’s WNBA expansion announcement marks a significant step forward for women’s basketball. It offers our athletes more chances, and brings the dreams of young, aspiring players to compete at the professional level even closer to reality. This development has long been awaited by our fans.
The choice of the Bay Area, a region where women’s basketball has already thrived at the collegiate level, is an ideal location where these dreams can be fulfilled, and women’s basketball can reach new heights.
We are excited that the WNBA’s expansion into the Bay Area comes with the investment of the NBA’s most valuable franchise, which should ensure our members receive the professional experience they deserve.
Previously, Chase Center has hosted three annual women’s basketball games as part of early-season events hosted by the University of San Francisco. The only women’s teams that have participated in those events are from the area: San Francisco, Stanford, and California.
This isn’t Lacob’s first time owning a women’s basketball team. During the years of the defunct American Basketball League, he owned the San Jose Lasers which only played two seasons (1996-1998). The ABL folded in 1998 and top players from the league found spots in the WNBA.
The WNBA Finals begin Sunday with a series between the reigning champion Las Vegas Aces and the New York Liberty.