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Cathy Engelbert: WNBA expansion remains ‘2-4 years out’

(Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images)

WNBA expansion remains two to four years away, commissioner Cathy Engelbert said Monday during an event in Portland, Oregon, held by Sen. Ron Wyden.

While Engelbert previously had said the league aimed to announce locations for up to two expansion team by the end of 2022, and those teams then join the league as soon as 2024, she walked back that timeline in December. Still, she is committed to adding teams when the time is right, she said Monday.

“The first thing when I came in, I said, ‘OK, we have 12 teams in a country of over 300 million people. That is not enough,’” Engelbert said. “So that’s why we do talk about expansion, and you have to be in more cities to grow more fandom. So that leads me to be here today.”

The commissioner wants to add at least one more team by 2025, she said in December, and she reiterated 2025 as a goal for expansion at Monday’s event.

“We are not in a rush,” she said, adding that it is not feasible to bring in a new team for 2024, as players already are in the midst of free agency for the 2023 season.

Engelbert was a guest at an event hosted by Wyden at women’s sports bar The Sports Bra to show community support for the addition of a WNBA team in Portland.

Engelbert revealed that 10 interested ownership groups remain in consideration in December. While she did not list every location in the running, several cities have been brought up as possibilities, including Portland, Oakland, Nashville and Toronto.

Portland already has a strong women’s sports presence with the Thorns, who are coming off an NWSL title.

The WNBA last expanded in 2008 with the addition of the Atlanta Dream. There are currently 12 teams in the league.