Toronto Awarded a WNBA Team, Key Facts So Far

Kilmer Sports Inc., led by Toronto billionaire Larry Tanenbaum, secured an expansion franchise with the WNBA, according to multiple reports. The team will bring the number of franchises in the league to 14 after the owners of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors received an expansion squad last October. Here’s a breakdown of the Toronto announcement key points:

Expansion Announcement

  • An official announcement regarding the expansion franchise is expected on May 23 in Toronto.
  • Play should begin in May 2026.

Larry Tanenbaum’s Role

  • Tanenbaum, a prominent figure in Toronto’s sporting scene, is the head of Kilmer Sports Inc.
  • He is a minority owner and chairman of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), a sporting conglomerate that oversees the Maple Leafs, Raptors, TFC, Argos, and Marlies.

Initial Pursuit Through MLSE

  • Initially, Tanenbaum endeavored to secure the expansion team through MLSE. However, other board members rebuffed the proposal.

Expansion Landscape

  • The WNBA recently expanded to 13 teams, with the Golden State franchise set to debut next year.
  • Commissioner Cathy Engelbert had previously hinted at Toronto being under consideration for the league’s 14th team.

Venue and Location

  • The team will probably play at the Coca-Cola Coliseum, an 8,000-seat arena.
  • The arena is currently home to the Marlies and hosts Toronto’s Professional Women’s Hockey League franchise.

Growth of Women’s Sports in Canada

  • The rise of professional women’s sports in Canada is evident, with the establishment of the PWHL and a new women’s soccer league scheduled to commence play in 2025.
  • Recent WNBA events in Canada, including a sold-out pre-season game at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena and a high ticket turnout in Edmonton’s Rogers Place, underscore the growing interest in women’s basketball.

Formation of Kilmer Sports Inc.

  • Kilmer Sports Inc. represents a fresh venture under Tanenbaum’s Kilmer Group.
  • Former European soccer executive Ivan Gazidis has been appointed to lead the new entity, along with Teresa Resch, who joins from her previous role as vice president of basketball operations with the Raptors.

Statements from Kilmer Group and WNBA

  • Courtney Glen, vice president of public affairs and communications for the Kilmer Group, stated that the organization has “no update at this time.”
  • A WNBA spokesperson said they are engaging in productive conversations with interested ownership groups in various markets but have no news to report currently.
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