Apr 17, 2024 - Sports

Nashville again listed as possible WNBA city

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert on stage Tuesday at the WNBA Draft.

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert on stage Monday at the WNBA Draft. Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert reiterated this week the league's desire to expand and once again listed Nashville as a possible new market.

Why it matters: Interest in women's basketball is at an all-time high thanks to Caitlin Clark and a wave of new young players coming into the league.

  • Nashville leaders have worked since 2021 to put the city in position for a women's pro sports team, with the WNBA and the NWSL as the most likely options.

The latest: In media interviews this week, Engelbert said the league wants to grow from 13 teams to 16 by 2028. She named Nashville among the cities where the league is exploring its options.

  • "We're talking to a lot of different cities," Engelbert said in The Athletic. "I think I've thrown out names before. It's complex because you need an arena and a practice facility and player housing and all the things, you need committed long-term ownership groups. The nice thing is we're getting a lot of calls."
  • Engelbert has mentioned Nashville as an expansion option before.

What he's saying: "It's been inspiring to see how women's basketball has captured the nation's as well as our daughters' attention this spring," Mayor Freddie O'Connell told Axios in a prepared statement. "I've said before that I think adding women's professional sports makes a lot of sense in Nashville."

  • O'Connell said he hasn't yet had "direct conversations" with the WNBA. The city would also have to figure out where a team could play, he added. "But it's clear Nashville has become a great sports city."

Flashback: A collaboration between the Metro Sports Authority and the Nashville Sports Council has been studying the possibility of women's pro sports here and advocating for city leaders to support the cause.

  • A 2022 study by a city consultant found that a WNBA franchise would generate millions of dollars for the Nashville economy.

Last year as part of the Titans stadium deal, Metro Council passed legislation to include recruitment of women's pro sports teams as one of the possible uses of a new community benefits fund.

  • The $48 million initiative, funded by the Titans, will primarily be used to support city needs like education, transportation and housing.
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