Apr 17, 2024 - News

Philadelphia considered for WNBA expansion

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley

Hey, Dawn, help Philly out! Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Philadelphia is one of five cities being considered for an expansion WNBA team, per reports.

Why it matters: Adding another team into the fold would be a major coup for one of the nation's biggest sports towns, which hasn't had a professional women's team since the late 1990s, when native Dawn Staley played for the American Basketball League's Philadelphia Rage.

Driving the news: Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said during the WNBA draft that Philly could be a destination as the league looks to expand to 16 teams by 2028, per USA Today.

  • Denver, Toronto, Nashville and South Florida are also on the shortlist for expansions. The league will add a 13th team in San Francisco in 2025.

The intrigue: Iowa's Caitlin Clark, drafted No. 1 overall by the Indiana Fever, and Staley have helped grow the sport's popularity.

  • The South Carolina Gamecocks capped a perfect season by defeating the Hawkeyes in a women's championship game that drew a bigger television audience for the first time than the men's final.
  • The league's projected revenue was expected to grow to about $200 million in 2023, up from about $100 million in 2019, per Bloomberg.

What they're saying: Any interested city would need to guarantee it could provide an arena, practice facility and player housing to make expansion viable, Engelbert said.

  • "I think [Philly is] a great basketball city, and we'll continue to discuss it with ownership groups there that are interested in committing long-term to the W," she told the Inquirer.

Zoom in: Comedian and actor Wanda Sykes was reportedly part of a group hoping to bring a WNBA team to Philly. But it's unclear if she's still interested in doing so.

The 76ers' push to build a billion-dollar downtown arena could make Philly's pitch more enticing, per City & State Pennsylvania.

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