May 10, 2024 

WNBA Toronto franchise set to enter the league in 2026

Toronto will become home to the WNBA's 14th franchise

The WNBA continues to make expansion moves with Toronto being the latest city awarded a franchise, CBC Sport’s Shireen Ahmed reported Friday morning. The franchise will be the league’s first non-United States-based team.

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Kilmer Sports Inc., led by Toronto’s Larry Tanenbaum — a minority owner and chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment — is set to own the latest addition to the WNBA. Tanenbaum also has ownership stakes in the Maple Leafs and Raptors. In 2026, the Toronto franchise will become the league’s 14th team following WNBA Golden State, slated to enter the WNBA in 2025. 

“We continue to engage in productive conversations with interested ownership groups in a number of markets but have no news to report at this time,” a WNBA spokesperson said regarding the Toronto expansion.

A spokesperson for Kilmer Sports also reported that the organization has “no update at this time.”

This development follows a recent announcement by league commissioner Cathy Engelbert, who aims to expand the league to 16 teams by 2028, with Toronto identified as a key contender.

Engelbert had previously disclosed Toronto as one of several cities under consideration for expansion, outlining an ambitious vision that encompasses cities like Philadelphia, Portland, Denver, Nashville and the broader South Florida region.

The prospective Toronto team is expected to call the 8,000-seat Coca-Cola Coliseum home, a venue familiar with hosting sports events, including the AHL’s Marlies and the PWHL’s Toronto franchise. This choice aligns with the league’s efforts to establish a strong presence in key markets while leveraging existing infrastructure to support the growth of women’s basketball.

The WNBA is taking powerful strides with decisions like league expansion and a $50 million commitment across two seasons to charter flights, which was announced earlier this week.

Written by Vishakya Deshpande

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