Report: WNBA agrees to grant Golden State Warriors an expansion team in 2025

Oct 4, 2023, 1:45 PM | Updated: 1:45 pm

Commissioner Cathy Engelbert speaks at the WNBA basketball draft Monday, April 10, 2023, in New Yor...

Commissioner Cathy Engelbert speaks at the WNBA basketball draft Monday, April 10, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File)

(AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File)

The WNBA has agreed to grant the Golden State Warriors an expansion franchise in 2025, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

While the deal hasn’t been finalized, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert is expected to be in the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday to announce the new franchise, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made.

The plan to grant Golden State an expansion team was first reported by The Athletic. Engelbert told the AP in August that a huge priority for the league was that any new ownership group treat players in top-notch way.

The commissioner also said any new owners would need to “be a long-term investor in the team and I can’t understate having the right arena and practice facility. I don’t want to bring an owner in this league who is going to be in the bottom quartile as it relates to player experience,” she said. “They’ve got to be in the top quartile. In fact, they should be at the top.”

The Warriors fit that bill.

While Golden State has never had a WNBA franchise before, the Warriors have been one of the premiere teams in the NBA, winning four championships since 2015. There is a strong women’s basketball fan base in the area, given Stanford and Cal’s success.

Golden State owner Joe Lacob helped establish the American Basketball League in 1995 and owned the San Jose Lasers.

The WNBA team would be headquartered in Oakland and games would be played at Chase Center in San Francisco.

Expansion has been one of Engelbert’s top priorities, but her timeline has shifted over the years. She said last year that she hoped to announce one or two expansion teams at the end of the year, in hopes of them playing by 2024. Now they’ll have to wait at least another year.

Other cities that were in the mix included Denver, Toronto, Portland and Philadelphia.

Portland had a WNBA team from 2000-02, playing its games at the Rose Garden before the franchise folded. There has been a strong women’s basketball fan base in the state over the past few seasons with the success of Oregon and Oregon State on the college level.

The city also has a big women’s sports presence with the NWSL Thorns, who won the league’s title last year and three overall. Portland also has the Sports Bra — the first sports bar dedicated to women’s sports — where Engelbert was part of a panel discussion on the WNBA earlier this year.

The WNBA last expanded in 2008 with the addition of the Atlanta Dream. There currently are 12 teams in the league.

Phoenix Mercury

Kristi Toliver looks on during Game Four of the 2019 WNBA Finals between the Washington Mystics and...

David Veenstra

Phoenix Mercury hire Kristi Toliver as associate head coach

The Phoenix Mercury named three-time WNBA All-Star and former NBA assistant Kristi Toliver as associate head coach Friday.

15 hours ago

Arizona Diamondbacks...

Kevin Zimmerman

5 things Arizona sports fans can be thankful for in 2023

We hope the vibes at your Thanksgiving table, big or small, are good ones. The vibes out there in the Arizona sports universe? Pretty good.

10 days ago

Team USA...

Aaron Schmidt

Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi aim for spot on US roster prior to 2024 Olympics

Mercury teammates Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi are on the 16-player roster for Team USA's training camp prior to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

25 days ago

Brittney Griner, USA...

Associated Press

Mercury’s Brittney Griner stars for USA in exhibition vs. Tennessee

Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi were both received with raucous applause ahead of USA's exhibition in Knoxville, Tennessee.

27 days ago

Brittney Griner is joined by Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs to reveal a mural supporting Bring Our Famili...

Character Counts

Mercury center Brittney Griner receives WNBA Cares Community Assist Award

The WNBA announced that Mercury center Brittney Griner earned the WNBA Cares Community Assist Award, recognizing her part in multiple causes.

1 month ago

Nate Tibbetts, Magic assistant and current Mercury head coach...

Aaron Schmidt

Nate Tibbetts ‘willing to learn’ as Mercury head coach

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Mercury hiring Nate Tibbetts as the team’s new head coach sparked controversy that had little to do with the long-time NBA assistant. The former Orlando Magic coach became one of three male coaches in the WNBA and, according to reports, is the highest-paid WNBA coach in the league. Given Tibbetts has […]

1 month ago

Report: WNBA agrees to grant Golden State Warriors an expansion team in 2025