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WNBA nears deal to bring expansion team to Bay Area

The WNBA expansion team will play its home games at Chase Center in San Francisco, which also serves as the home arena for the NBA's Golden State Warriors. (Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)

The WNBA is nearing a deal to bring an expansion franchise to the Bay Area, according to multiple reports.

The league is in discussions with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, and an announcement could come as early as October, The Athletic and ESPN reported Tuesday night. The new team would play its home games at the Chase Center in San Francisco, which also serves as the home for the Warriors, but would be headquartered in Oakland.

“We have had productive conversations with the WNBA and look forward to the possibility of being a part of the league’s expansion plans. However, it would be premature to assume any potential agreement has been finalized,” the Warriors said in a statement to The Athletic.

The news of the Bay Area getting a WNBA team should not come as a surprise. For the last year, the city has been a top candidate for expansion.

Oakland had been among a number of cities to express interest in an expansion team, and even had multiple ownership groups in play. While the WNBA is negotiating with the Warriors, a second group — African American Sports and Entertainment Group, led by former WNBA star Alana Beard — had petitioned Oakland for rights to purchase the Coliseum complex with an eye toward an expansion franchise.

Retired WNBA star Sue Bird also threw her support behind the Bay Area, saying last year that she would pick San Francisco as a top candidate for expansion.

“I would pick the Bay Area, San Francisco probably. I think Portland would be a good one. I hear rumors and whispers of Toronto being interested, and I actually hear great things about that city,” Bird said on Just Women’s Sports‘ “The Players’ Pod” last May.

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert also has maintained that the Bay Area is a “top candidate” for expansion.

Back in February, Engelbert said expansion was “two to four years” out. In May, she revealed that the league had narrowed its list to 20 cities in consideration for two expansion teams. The WNBA has 12 teams, and the Bay Area team would be No. 13.