January 18, 2023
Locked on Women’s Basketball: The WNBA is heading to Canada and is Courtney Vandersloot New York-bound?
Howard and James discuss the exhibition game between Chicago and Minnesota that is happening this season in Toronto — plus more
It’s time for another episode of the Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast. It’s a normal day in the WNBA, which means news and lots of it. Host Howard Megdal is joined by James Kay of The Next, who discusses the league’s announcement that it will play an exhibition game between the Chicago Sky and the Minnesota Lynx this season in Toronto. First, James spoke to Cathy Engelbert about what it means and filled us in. Then the two discuss Howard’s report that there is mutual interest between Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot and the New York Liberty.
James talks about the exhibition game between Chicago and Minnesota and expanding the WNBA to Canada:
“It’s crazy because I remember when Cathy Engelbert first came in and talked about wanting to expand the game, not just in the United States, but globally. And I was also curious when Canada would enter that conversation, given the success that Toronto has had with its NBA team.
But one of the things that Cathy was talking about was how the league was planning on doing this in March 2020. Before and then, the global pandemic happened. And it took the league a while to get to this point where, again, three years later, they’re able to send the Sky and Lynx to Canada for a preseason game that’s going to happen on May 13 at the Scotiabank Arena.
I think this is a really exciting time, though, for the WNBA. I don’t think they would have done this if this wasn’t financially viable for them. It is important to grow the audience. And Cathy said yesterday she was told that there is an estimated 5 million WNBA fans in Canada, which I thought was a pretty interesting figure. So it will be interesting to see how much the Canadian fan base shows up in Toronto, given how big the country is.”
James talks about the timeline for international play and if more expansion games like the Canada game are in the future:
“I think that the timeline wasn’t really discussed as much again when the small group of reporters on a zoom call, but she did talk about wanting to continue this momentum towards international play. I don’t think this is going to be the last game we see outside of American soil that the WNBA is going to play. She mentioned Latin America as someplace where the WNBA could potentially have a game; they had a game in Mexico City before and they went to Manchester to play, I believe.
I think it’s important for them, while I believe that I’ve seen a few people react to saying we need to focus on what’s happening here and growing the WNBA. The fan experience needs to improve; still, I think that’s true. But I think you can tackle both things at once. I mean, it’s not like having a game in Canada is really going to stop the progress of the WNBA in the United States.”
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