Oakland takes a step toward possible WNBA expansion


Oakland sports fans may finally be getting some good news.

On Friday, the Board of the Authority — which oversees the Oakland Arena — voted unanimously to move forward with the process of a lease, opening up the possibility of bringing a WNBA team to the Oakland Arena.

On June 18, the African American Sports & Entertainment Group announced it was moving forward with its goal of purchasing a 50 percent interest in the Oakland Coliseum Complex. A major part of the AASEG’s proposal is its interest in bringing a WNBA team to Oakland.

Many are on board, including Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan.

“Oakland has the location, history and demographics to support a highly successful WNBA team, a great fan base and a welcoming community,” she told the East Bay Express via text. “We also have an available basketball arena that’s easy to get to from throughout the greater region.”

Talks of WNBA expansion have increased in recent years due to a rise in the league’s popularity and the depth of talent in the player pool. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert has said that, while expansion is top of mind, she isn’t looking to rush the process, especially coming off the pandemic and bubble season.

“We have to do very thoughtful analysis about that. That’s what we’re working on now,” she said in a press conference Wednesday. “There are some cities where you would think a WNBA team would thrive. Those are the things we’re going to start to look at. It will be data-driven.

“I would say once we get through this season, going into next year, as we come off free agency in the offseason, we’ll be seriously thinking about what that could look like in the future.”