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Cathy Engelbert: WNBA narrows expansion list for hopeful 2024 start

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert wants to grow the league. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said the league has narrowed its list of locations for up to two possible expansion teams, she told The Athletic.

The new franchises could start as soon as 2024, and 10 to 12 cities remain on the WNBA’s short list, Engelbert said. The commissioner did not identify the cities on the short list.

Each contender is being considered in relation to 25 data points from five different categories: demographics, psychographics (market research on population groups), sports benchmarks, viewership and fan data.

The expansion fee could be around $15-20 million, league sources told The Athletic. While Engelbert wouldn’t confirm the fee, she said that it “sounds low” due to recent team transactions and revenue numbers.

“We have a process that we’re following, and we’re excited to get to the next steps on this,” Engelbert said. “There’s nobody that wants this more than I do. We know that it’s time because there’s such great talent coming out of the NCAA ranks into our league. You just look at the rookies who are doing so great this year. We’ll just continue to broaden the exposure for these players so that we can get this expansion done in the future.”

Engelbert adds that the league want to give the new teams the best opportunities for success. She estimated that the timeline from identification of a new team to putting that team on the court would measure between 18 and 24 months.

WNBA expansion has been a hot-button topic for months. Engelbert previously has discussed the desire to add two new franchises, and cities like Oakland already having begun the process to potentially field a team.