Warriors bringing WNBA team to Bay Area: Sources

Warriors bringing WNBA team to Bay Area: Sources

The Golden State Warriors are close to bringing a WNBA franchise to the Bay Area, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the deal.

The agreement is not finalized, sources emphasized, because many details still need to be worked out. But if it’s done, the franchise will play games at the Chase Center and be headquartered in Oakland at the team’s practice facility, which the organization still owns and uses to maintain a presence in the community. An announcement may come in early October.

Owning a WNBA franchise has come full circle for Warriors owner Joe Lacob, who is a fan of American women’s basketball. Even a pioneer. In the year He started playing in late 1996 and was instrumental in the formation of the American Basketball League. Lacob owned the San Jose Leathers, led by Stanford star Jennifer Azzi and Sherry Sam.

But the WNBA began play in June 1997. In December 1998, ABL folded. This is the last time the Bay Area will have a women’s professional team.

The WNBA has been talking about expansion for the past two years. Commissioner Kathy Engelbert said in May that she would like to add one or two teams by 2025. Because of the passion for women’s basketball in these parts, the Bay Area is a natural for expansion.

As long as the Warriors want the franchise, it has been speculated by many that they would be the league’s preferred ownership team should the league expand to the Bay Area.

The Warriors have a capital city, a new arena and a reputation. Using the Chess Center for a new WNBA team is a huge appeal because it allows the ownership group to control the arena’s schedule year-round. When an agreement is reached, it still must be approved by the WNBA’s Board of Governors. “Discussions with new ownership groups continue to move in the right direction,” a league spokesman said.

Lacob has been looking for a WNBA team for a long time. In the year It was a question of whether the timing was right for the Warriors, who moved to San Francisco in 2019 and were still recovering from the pandemic when expansion talks began.

But it’s clearly a good time for the Warriors, who won the NBA championship in 2022 and are still one of the highest-grossing and most respected sports franchises in the world. The Warriors responded to The Athletic’s report Tuesday night: “We have had productive discussions with the WNBA and look forward to the opportunity to be a part of the league’s expansion plans. However, it is premature to assume that any agreement has been reached.

— The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov contributed to this report.

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(Photo: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)