New WNBA franchise

WNBA Expands With First International Franchise!

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By Melanie VanDerveer on May 23, 2024 at 2:45 PM EDT

It's an exciting time to be a WNBA fan!

The league is expanding, adding not just a 13th team but also a 14th, and this one will be based internationally. On Thursday, the league revealed its plans for the first international franchise in Canada!

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Toronto Is Getting A WNBA Team!


Welcome to the league, Toronto!

The new team will be set to play in the 2026 season, according to a press release.

"The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) announced today that it has expanded to Canada by awarding Toronto an expansion team, the league’s first outside the United States.  The new team will begin play in the 2026 season as the WNBA’s 14th franchise," Thursday's press release reads.

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"The team will be owned and operated by Kilmer Sports Ventures.  Larry Tanenbaum, Chairman of Kilmer Sports Ventures and a 30-year veteran of building championship-caliber teams, is also Chairman of the NBA Board of Governors and Chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, MLS’ Toronto FC and other professional sports franchises.  Under his leadership, the Raptors won their first NBA championship in 2019."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also shared his thoughts on the new WNBA team.

"It's official: Canada is getting a WNBA team! This landmark deal will give opportunities to our remarkable athletes across the country, and on the biggest stage. I can't wait to see our Canadian women win on the court."

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WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert Called The Newest Addition To The League 'An Important Milestone'

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said that bringing a team to Toronto "represents an important milestone for our league as we continue to expand both domestically and outside the United States."

"With Larry Tanenbaum's distinguished record of leading successful sports franchises and Toronto's appeal as a dynamic, diverse city that cares deeply about the game of basketball, we are confident that this new team will thrive as a first-class WNBA organization and become a great source of inspiration and support for the Toronto-area community and across Canada," she said according to the press release.

A clip from the official announcement was shared on the WNBA's Instagram page and many fans shared their excitement for the new team in the comment section.

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"Congratulations! Keep growing, keep manifesting. There are so many young talented women that are hoping and praying and wishing that they’ll can be the chosen one," one person shared.

Another added, "14 teams!! WNBA gonna continue to grow."

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Cathy Engelbert Talked About Wanting To Grow The League Last Year

WNBA Finals
Jesse VanDerveer

In July 2023, Engelbert opened up about wanting to increase the number of WNBA franchises in the near future.

Engelbert told PEOPLE that the few roster spots in the league is a "dilemma."

"What will help is expanding the number of teams," she said. "I haven't been shy about talking about expansion."

And while she knew expansion was something in the future, she also knew timing was an important factor. The 20,000-person turnout to a pre-season game between the Chicago Sky and Minnesota Lynx in Toronto was a great start.

"It was an amazing signal of interest, and not just in Canada, but there's a fair amount of other cities that are very interesting," she said.  "You've got to build an economic model to fund everything they want; higher pay, travel benefits, etc. It's important that our players understand where we get our revenue, where all the expenses are going, and their questions around that."

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The WNBA Recently Announced The Name Of Their Newest Franchise

About a week ago, the WNBA revealed the newest team in the league's name - Golden State Valkyries.

Robin Roberts announced the team's name and logo on an episode of "Good Morning America."

"We're gonna reveal the name of the new team," Roberts said before a banner was dropped showing the name and logo. "The Valkyries, the Golden State Valkyries."

The newest WNBA team from the Bay Area will join the league in 2025.

The team and logo's color is "Valkyries Violet," which is a "modern, bold and unconventional color that dramatically stands out when paired with black."

The "V shape" of the logo symbolizes "the unity of Valkyries in flight" and the center of the logo, the "Bay Bridge," is a "symbol of the Valkyries' strong presence across the Bay and the connection between their two homes: San Francisco and Oakland."

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The Valkyries Are Already Building A Strong Fan Base Online

The Valkyries are already actively building their fan base online. Their new Instagram page already has more than 99,000 followers.

One recent post reveals that the excitement is certainly building for the start of the Valkyries' debut next season.

"10,000 ticket deposits and counting!" an Instagram post reads. "Less than a week after announcing the Golden State @valkyries, we have received over 2,500 deposits and have surpassed 10,000 deposits."

Many fans dropped into the comments to share their excitement for the new team.

"I am one of them!!! CAN'T WAIT!" one fan wrote. Another added, "Woah! That seems like a promising beginning, congratulations!"

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