The WNBA is officially expanding to Toronto, with the league announcing its 14th franchise early Thursday. 

Kilmer Sports Ventures has been awarded the team, said WNBA commissioner Cathy Englebert at a press conference attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and others. 

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"Growing internationally, I’ve been trying to think through next steps on a global platform," Engelbert told the Associated Press ahead of the official announcement. "It helps us reach new audiences and bring in new partners. The thing I love about going to another country is that the young girls and boys get to see professional basketball for women is important, too."

The CBC was the first to report on the expansion franchise back on May 10th. 

With the Golden State Valkyries set to begin play next year, the Toronto franchise will begin play in 2026. The goal, per the WNBA, is to then add two more franchises by 2028 for a total of 16. 

Toronto will play at Coca-Cola Coliseum, which holds 8,700 seats. On occasion, the team will play games in Scotiabank Arena. The WNBA has previously hosted sold-out preseason games at Scotiabank Arena and Edmonton’s Rogers Place. There are also plans to play games in Vancouver and Montreal, according to majority owner Larry Tanenbaum. 

This will be the first WNBA franchise outside of the United States, and joins PWHL Toronto as just the second professional women’s sports team in the city.

"Our Toronto sports franchises are thriving but, we have been missing one critical piece — women’s professional sports," Tanenbaum told the AP. "The world is finally taking notice of something that’s been there all along — the immense talent, passion and competition in women’s sports. 

"I saw an opportunity and knew we were in the right place at the right time to bring Canada’s first WNBA team to Toronto. And now we have, making sports history."

Similar to Golden State, the Toronto franchise paid a $50 million expansion fee. They’ve also committed to building a dedicated practice facility, but will train at the University of Toronto’s Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport in the meantime. 

"Women’s sports is good business," Tanenbaum said. "Just look around — it’s not a moment, but a movement and it’s just the beginning."

A group led by Toronto billionaire Larry Tanenbaum will bring a new WNBA franchise to Canada, CBC Sports reported early this morning. 

Set to begin play in 2026, the team will be owned and operated by Tanenbaum's Kilmer Sports Inc. Tanenbaum is a minority owner and chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Raptors, Toronto FC, Argos, and Marlies. He originally explored an expansion team via MLSE, but was turned down by other members of the board. 

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The Toronto addition will be the WNBA's 14th team. It follows the Bay Area's WNBA Golden State, which will debut in 2025. 

An official announcement is expected May 23rd in Toronto, according to reports. 

"We continue to engage in productive conversations with interested ownership groups in a number of markets but have no news to report at this time," a WNBA spokesperson said in a statement. Tanenbaum's Kilmer Sports group, meanwhile, told CBC Sports that his organization has “no update at this time.”

In April, commissioner Cathy Engelbert said that Toronto was among the cities being considered for WNBA expansion.

The WNBA has a growing footprint in Canada, as the league's held wildly successful exhibition games north of the US border for the last two seasons. 

In 2023, a preseason matchup between Chicago and Minnesota sold out Toronto’s 19,800-capacity Scotiabank Arena. This past Saturday, the league drew more than 16,000 fans to Edmonton for a preseason showdown between LA and Seattle.

The Toronto team will reportedly play at Coca-Cola Coliseum, an 8,000-seat arena which is currently home to the Marlies as well as Toronto’s PWHL franchise.

Toronto’s Professional Women's Hockey League team skated to victory Wednesday night, kicking off the league's first playoff match with a 4-0 win over visiting Minnesota.

Natalie Spooner — the league's leading regular season goalscorer with 20 goals in 24 games — opened things up with the first playoff goal in PWSHL history at 9:47 of the first period, later notching an assist in front of Coca-Cola Coliseum's 8,473 fans. Captain Blayre Turnbull followed up Spooner's efforts with two goals of her own, securing the game's final point with just 38 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

In the defensive end, goalie Kristen Campbell put a stop to all 26 shots fired her way. With game one behind them, Toronto has pulled ahead of Minnesota 1-0 in the best-of-five series.

"It's what I believe I expect and I think what the group expects as well," head coach Troy Ryan said in postgame remarks. "Being everything we thought it would be, I think the atmosphere was incredible. I think our performance was pretty good and I think it's a great stepping-stone for us to continue to build on for this series and hopefully moving forward.

For Turnbull, the win came as a result of weeks of regular season preparation, adding that the team was "proud" of its execution throughout their first playoff game. 

"The whole season we’ve been building and building waiting to get into playoffs and trying to find our game every week and get better so that when players arrived, we are ready to go," Turnbull said. "I think there’s still a few areas that we can keep improving on, but overall, we’re pretty happy with where we’re at, so we’re excited to get back on the ice for game two."

The postseason outing continues a record-breaking regular season for the young league. In total, the PWHL set six attendance records for women’s hockey this year, with nearly 400,000 fans showing up to watch the inaugural teams take the ice over the 72-game season.

Toronto will face Minnesota at home once more in Game 2 of the series on Friday, before the teams move to Minnesota for Monday's Game 3. 

New York won the first-ever PWHL game on Monday, dominating Toronto in a 4-0 win.

It was a historic moment for women’s hockey, with Ella Shelton getting the first goal in PWHL history.

It was a monumental day for the new women’s hockey league, with lines for the sellout crowd out the doors and wrapped around the block to get in to watch New York win the first game in PWHL history.

New York followed up with three third-period goals from Alex Carpenter, Jill Saulnier and Kayla Vespa. New York goaltender Corinne Schroeder made 29 saves to get the league’s first shutout.

Billie Jean King, who helped to found the league, was present to witness history and give Toronto their starting lineup.

“Today was one for the history books, as the Professional Women’s Hockey League (@thepwhlofficial) played their 1st game in Toronto,” she wrote on social media. “@PWHL_Toronto took on @PWHL_NewYork, the game was action-packed, & the arena was full of terrific fans.”