October 5, 2023 

Locked On Women’s Basketball: WNBA expansion is here: Golden State announcement, Portland next

Howard and Alex talk all things WNBA expansion announcement, markets and a potential 14th team

It’s time for another Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast episode. Host Howard Megdal is joined by SFGate’s Alex Simon, who was live at Chase Center Thursday for the WNBA expansion announcement. From Joe Lacob to Cathy Engelbert, there was plenty to say about the long-awaited 13th team in the WNBA, which will play at the Chase Center. But there was also news, broken by Megdal, about the city likeliest to earn the 14th spot in the league. So what does it all mean?

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Alex Simon talks about the WNBA expansion to the Bay Area announcement:

“I think, you know, the thing about today was just kind of the palpable joy that so many of the people we know and women’s basketball faces that are super recognizable had that this was coming to the Bay Area. I mean, for one, not to give away too much about what’s coming at The Next Howard. But I was seated in the press conference row immediately behind Michelle Smith, who has been covering this league for literally its entire existence at various places. But she’s a Bay Area resident Bay Area person who has never had a team in the local market. And we are so thrilled. I’m sure at The Next, you would have to be thrilled to be able to have a team for Michelle Smith to cover somebody I’m sure we’ll have more content coming from her here.

Tara VanDerveer, at one point, was nearly in tears sitting there in the front row. There was just everyone you can imagine it was clearly a festive day. Everything about today felt like it was a long time coming. And for whatever reasons we can get into as to why it took this long. The fact that it is here now and it is officially happening is it kind of just set the mood of Thank God, I think, would be the way that people would say if that’s your religious belief in that regard.”

Alex Simon talks about potential WNBA expansion teams and markets:

“To be honest, I think this is a really smart route for the WNBA in part because look at where the success has been in women’s sports as much as there are teams that have been successful on the East Coast. If you look right now, the top, you could argue, three and maybe four franchises in the National Women’s Soccer League, in terms of financial value, which is the metric that is most important at this point, are all West Coast base, Angel City and San Diego. The two most recent additions to this league are the top two according to this recent Sportico team value list that we got. Portland has historically been a sensational women’s soccer market. Seattle has the excellent Storm as well as a good women’s soccer team in that way. The West Coast has, for whatever reason, a stronger women’s sports market and is more likely to show up to support women’s sports. Their arenas are very large. I hear the Mercury are a historic and strong franchise in that way.

The Aces lead the league in attendance this year. It’s clear to me that there’s a woman sports kind of surge happening out west here that it makes it smart even if the league had other options and I think maybe they could prefer to have more East Coast or even Toronto, if they can get the charter flight issue sorted out to make it easier to get to Toronto. I think there’s definitely East Coast options it wouldn’t surprise me to just see the next one be two East Coast cities move Minnesota back. But right now, like, go where interest is clearly showing and I think that is the West Coast at the moment.”

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