October 5, 2023 

Sources: Portland expected to be second WNBA expansion team

Discussions have reached Board of Governors level

Multiple sources have told The Next that discussions about adding Portland to the WNBA’s next round of expansion have reached the Board of Governors level.

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The addition of Portland to the widely-expected announcement Thursday to add a team in the Bay Area would swell the ranks to 14 teams in time for a pivotal season for the league, one in which the league will be negotiating its new media rights deal.

Lead time of 18 months is considered vital for an ownership group to properly prepare for a launch of a new team, while it gives the current group of 12 teams the chance to prepare for everything from an expansion draft to a potential sea change in a collective bargaining agreement, should the WNBPA elect to opt out of the current deal, which runs through 2027. It is generally assumed around the league that the players will do so.

Conferences can be easily re-aligned in a Portland/Bay Area set of additions, with multiple front office members telling The Next the expectation would be that the league would move the Minnesota Lynx to the Eastern Conference.

From a playoffs perspective, of course, it wouldn’t matter much, since the current system has eight teams seeded regardless of conference.

The Golden State Warriors ownership group has called a news conference for Thursday afternoon, where they are widely expected to announce their WNBA expansion franchise in the Bay Area. Cathy Engelbert, as of now, is scheduled to speak to reporters at 2 PM ET on Sunday, ahead of Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.

UPDATE 11:50 AM ET: The WNBA has made the announcement on social media, and Engelbert will be speaking today as well.

Much more to come on this. Our Michelle Smith is live at the Golden State press conference this afternoon, and a special Locked On Women’s Basketball with SFGATE’s Alex Simon will follow that presser as well.

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Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.


  1. Earl on October 5, 2023 at 11:51 am

    Why so many pacific NW teams?!?1 You already have Seattle & LA now Golden State then you add Portland? None in FL? I’m begging for Philly to get a team being a native but this makes me a little sad. North Carolina would be a good spot. Charlotte would be awesome.

    • Come On Earl on October 5, 2023 at 11:59 am

      San Fransisco is not the Pacific Northwest

    • Greg on October 5, 2023 at 1:17 pm

      I agree that NC would be a good spot but Charlotte previously had a team (Charlotte Sting that ended in 2007). The league should however consider expansion to Raleigh where PNC Arena is to undergo a 300 million renovation and houses the NC State basketball team as well as the NHL Hurricanes. The planned development around PNC Arena to create an entertainment and sports district similar to that of the Battery in Atlanta would be a huge draw in the Triangle where basketball has a rich history with UNC, duke and NC State programs. Raleigh is the place for expansion in NC.

    • Jermaine A Deese on October 5, 2023 at 4:01 pm

      I would love for the Charlotte Sting to come back! As a Charlotte native it would be great! Hopefully they would have better support a second time!

  2. Beck on October 5, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Neither is LA.

  3. Dawn on October 5, 2023 at 1:43 pm

    Portland is a big basketball town and huge for women’s and girls hoops. I am old enough to remember the original ABL league Portland Power and the Portland Fire. Yes give us a team!!!

  4. Wenny on October 5, 2023 at 2:32 pm

    Don’t be disingenuous, it’s a fair point that it’s now 4 teams on the west coast, and why should philly care the difference between pnw and west coast. Bunch of tech hipsters either way. Not the most fun direction for the w to take, target demographic wise imo, but if they were considering Austin I guess a hoops town like philly is not what they’re going for.

    • Beck on October 5, 2023 at 5:48 pm

      And 4 on the east coast, and Chicago, Indiana not far off. If you look at the map, the league is pretty east-heavy.

  5. Brian on October 5, 2023 at 3:39 pm

    No mention of Toronto? After the sold out preseason game in May, I thought that Toronto was near the top of the list.

  6. CRAIG MONTGOMERY on October 5, 2023 at 4:10 pm

    The league doesn’t just ‘decide’ where to put a team. There has to be a local owner ready and willing to put up a team.

  7. OG.TAME88. on October 6, 2023 at 12:27 am


  8. Will on October 6, 2023 at 10:09 pm

    Portland supports their teams. End of story.

  9. Gully on October 9, 2023 at 4:30 pm

    Portland needs to re-ignite the Fire! It’d be a great rivalry with Seattle and a perfect expansion for the league.

  10. Chris on October 15, 2023 at 4:58 pm

    Resurrect The San Antonio Silver Stars/San Antonio Stars! Do It! Do It!

  11. Chris on October 15, 2023 at 5:00 pm

    Give Texas the WNBA Version of the I-35 Rivalry(San Antonio Silver Stars/Stars v. Dallas Wings

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