Toronto selected as home of next WNBA series

Canada’s largest city Toronto will be the home of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) next season, Canadian media reported.

The new team is expected to play in 2026, industry sources told CBC and the Toronto Star.

The addition is part of a larger expansion of the WNBA, which is expected to grow to 16 teams by 2028.

The expansion to Toronto will increase the league’s roster to 14 teams.

This is also the league’s first expansion outside of the United States.

Kilmer Sports Venture, a company founded by Toronto billionaire Larry Tanenbaum, is leading the city’s expansion, according to media reports.

Tanenbaum is a minority owner and president of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment. Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment owns several other Toronto sports franchises, including the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, the Toronto Raptors men’s basketball team, and the Major League Soccer team. Toronto FC.

The official announcement is expected on May 23rd.

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow sharply questioned Friday’s reports, saying: “Hopefully there will be good news soon. Stay tuned.”

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced last month that her league plans to add three more teams over the next four years.

Earlier this year, the Women’s Basketball League announced its 13th team in the San Francisco Bay Area. Engelbert said the team should play through the 2025 season.

“We’re talking to a lot of different cities,” he told reporters in April, adding that “it’s difficult because you need an arena and training facilities and player housing and all these other things, you need a long-term commitment. The good thing is , that we get a lot of calls.”

Basketball has seen great success in Toronto in recent years, with the city’s National Basketball Association (NBA) team, the Toronto Raptors, winning the championship in June 2019, an achievement celebrated by hundreds of thousands of fans who filled the city. . . on the streets at the time.

Women’s basketball fans have also grown in North America thanks to the success of college player Caitlin Clark. The Indiana Fever selected her in the WNBA draft earlier this year

Thanks to Clark’s growing popularity, ticket prices for the women’s championship this year are double the average for men, reaching up to $11,000 (£8,736) .

Canada has hosted WNBA games in the past, most recently a preseason game between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Seattle Storm in Edmonton, Alberta on May 4.

According to the CBC, the Toronto team plays at the city’s Coca-Cola Coliseum, an 8,000-seat arena that is currently home to the Toronto Professional Women’s Hockey League team.

The BBC has contacted the WNBA for comment on its reported expansion to Toronto.

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