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. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Just Women’s Sports (@justwomenssports)

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.

Could Serena Williams co-own a WNBA team in the near future? 

Speaking with CNN on Monday, Williams expressed her interest in that potential — as well as the mounting enthusiasm for women’s sports around the world. 

"I think women’s sport is having a moment that it should have always had," Williams said. "I feel like tennis has had its moment. It’s international, and it’s huge, and it’s always gonna be there.

"Now it’s time to lift up other sports — women’s soccer, women’s basketball — there’s so many other sports that women do so great, let’s put it on that platform. Women’s basketball is getting there, and it’s arrived."

When asked if she had any interest in adding a WNBA team to her roster of ownership stakes, the tennis great welcomed the idea. "I absolutely would be," Williams said. "With the right market, I would definitely be super interested in that."

"There is no risk — women’s sport is exciting," Williams added, citing the 2024 NCAA women's tournament's record-breaking viewership as evidence. "People are realizing that it is exciting to watch, so it's an overly safe bet."

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Just Women’s Sports (@justwomenssports)

Williams may not need to wait long to act on that bet. On Monday, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said that she is "pretty confident" the league will expand to 16 teams — up from its current 12 — by 2028. 

The goal, she said, is to reach 14 by 2026. Oakland's Golden State is already on track to launch the league's 13th team in 2025. The move will mark the WNBA's first new franchise since the Atlanta Dream debuted in 2008.

"It's complex because you need the arena and practice facility and player housing and all the things," Engelbert said at a press conference before Monday's WNBA draft. "You need committed long-term ownership groups, and so the nice thing is we're getting a lot of calls."

Engelbert went on to name a few of the cities behind those calls, saying that the league continues to engage in discussions with Philadelphia, Toronto, Portland, Denver, and Nashville, as well as South Florida.

"These can either take a very long time to negotiate or it can happen pretty quickly if you find the right ownership group with the right arena situation," Engelbert added.

The Commissioner's 16 team goal is not only good news for WNBA fans, it's great news for current and future WNBA players. At 12 teams with just 12 roster spots each, the league is held to a total of 144 players for any given season. An abundance of fresh talent coming up through the NCAA ranks has put pressure on the organization to make room for more worthy competitors, and four additional teams might be just the ticket.

While WNBA expansion to Portland had been characterized as “close to a done deal” in early October, the league’s plan to add a 14th team in Oregon has been halted.

When the Oregonian published its initial report on the WNBA coming to Portland, sports columnist Bill Oram even pledged: “If I’m wrong about this one, I’ll eat my throwback Natalie Williams Portland Power jersey.”

Oram will have to eat his words, if not his jersey. The WNBA “has shelved” the Portland expansion, he reported Wednesday, as negotiations with entrepreneur Kirk Brown broke down late in the process.

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert addressed a letter Wednesday to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, in which she called Portland “an ideal destination for a WNBA franchise” but pointed to the planned renovation of the proposed arena as a sticking point.

“In light of the potential renovation of the Moda Center currently anticipated to take place during consecutive summers, consideration of a WNBA franchise for Portland will be deferred for now until the timing and scope of the arena improvements are settled,” Engelbert wrote.

When the WNBA announced its expansion to the San Francisco Bay Area in early October, discussions surrounding a Portland team were in the late stages, even reaching the league’s Board of Governors.

The Bay Area team, which is under the umbrella of the Golden State Warriors ownership group, will be the 13th team in the league. The team is set to start play in 2025.

While Engelbert would not comment on the progress with Portland at the time of the Bay Area team was announced, she did say: “Our goal is to have a 14th team by 2025.”

The WNBA doesn’t plan to stop expanding anytime soon.

After announcing the Bay Area as the league’s 13th team last week, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said Sunday that the goal is to add another team by 2025.

“Not to add more than that because when you run an expansion draft … obviously if you add 24 roster spots to a league of 144, that’s a lot, and we know we have the talent and the depth of talent in the league and those that haven’t made rosters and coming out of the NCAA system,” she said. “So the goal is to add that 14th team, not more, for ’25.

“But obviously longer term, I’ve said my goal is to get this league additional teams in additional cities that we think would be great.”

Reports have indicated that the second expansion city for 2025 will be Portland, although Engelbert wouldn’t confirm that in her press conference Sunday before Game 1 of the WNBA Finals. She said that the WNBA has entertained “a lot of interest” from prospective cities, and they intend to announce the second team by the end of the year.

“It’s a really good problem to have,” she said.

The league continues to examine data — from demographics to the arena situation, viewership and fandom — to determine which cities will be the strongest markets for expansion. On Sunday, Engelbert listed off six other cities, including Denver and Portland, which the league has already visited. The WNBA has also been in discussions with Philadelphia, Charlotte, Austin and Nashville.

“We have to be very thoughtful in the way we’re thinking about it,” Engelbert said. “Now it’s whether we can find the right — as you say, the right mix of the ownership group with the arena situation and everything else that’s important as part of long-term investing in women’s sports and in a WNBA team.”

Golden State’s WNBA team doesn’t have a name, or any players. But it already has a fanbase, based on its early season ticket sales.

Within the first five hours of opening season ticket sales Thursday, the expansion team received 2,000 deposits, the Warriors told ESPN. The WNBA had announced its expansion to the San Francisco Bay Area just hours earlier.

The demand for tickets shows resounding interest in the new team. And the Warriors are committed to doing whatever it takes to help the team succeed.

The Warriors ownership group committed to a record $50 million expansion fee to secure the WNBA franchise, with that number to be paid over 10 years, Sportico reported.

That is in line with to the recent NWSL expansion fees of $53 million. But it also indicates the changing value of WNBA teams; back in 2021, Mark Davis bought the Las Vegas Aces at a price of a little more than $2 million.

And Joe Lacob, majority owner and chairman of the Warriors, is committed to seeing the WNBA’s Golden State team to the top of the league – both financially and on the court.

“We will win a WNBA championship in the first five years of this franchise,” he promised Thursday, noting that the Warriors are planning to bring “all of our resources” to the team.

“We can put this machine to work and we’re going to do that,” Lacob told ESPN. “I believe we’ll have the No. 1 revenue of any WNBA team. And I think we can do very, very well as a business because we know how to do this. We have all the facilities, and we can bring sponsor dollars to the team and ultimately to the league that will help the league in a big way.”

Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob is bringing a WNBA expansion team to the Bay Area, and he is aiming high.

“We will win a WNBA championship in the first five years of this franchise,” he promised Thursday.

The new franchise is set to begin play in 2025, the WNBA announced Thursday. The team likely will share the “Golden State” moniker with its NBA peers, to reflect the fanbase of the entire Bay Area — and, if all goes well, to find similar success.

“We’re coming in here, number one, to win,” Lacob told ESPN. “Number two, we want to see this league and women’s basketball grow, and we hope to be a big part of it.”

The Warriors are planning to bring “all of our resources” to the WNBA team, he said, adding: “We can put this machine to work and we’re going to do that.”

For Lacob, the ownership of a WNBA team is a “full-circle” moment, as he began his journey as a sports owner with the women’s American Basketball League in 1996. He also was a minority owner in the league, which folded in 1996.

“The only reason it took all these years (to get a WNBA team), 25 years or so, is that when I bought the Warriors [in 2010], we had to turn around the team,” he said. “That was a few years. Then we had a seven-year process to build the arena, which was a massive investment of time and money. And then finally when I was ready to go, the pandemic hit. So years go by, and here we are now.”

According to Forbes’ most recent NBA valuations, the Warriors are the top-ranked NBA team, sitting at a cool $7 billion. And now that $7 billion is going to be a driving force behind the newest WNBA franchise, with Lacob saying that they’re committed to putting the Warriors’ business structure fully behind the team.

“I believe we’ll have the No. 1 revenue of any WNBA team,” he said. “And I think we can do very, very well as a business because we know how to do this. We have all the facilities, and we can bring sponsor dollars to the team and ultimately to the league that will help the league in a big way.”

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and star player Steph Curry also expressed their excitement over the WNBA team in videos posted to social media Thursday.

The WNBA announced an expansion team in the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday.

The new team will begin play in the 2025 season, bringing the league to 13 teams overall. The WNBA has not expanded since adding the Atlanta Dream in 2008.

The WNBA had been teasing an impending announcement on its social media accounts since Tuesday amid reports of a deal with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors to bring a franchise to the Bay Area. The team will play its games at Chase Center in San Francisco and will be headquartered in Oakland.

“We’re coming in here, number one, to win,” Warriors chairman Joe Lacob told ESPN. “Number two, we want to see this league and women’s basketball grow, and we hope to be a big part of it.”

The WNBA is still in conversations over a second expansion team, “likely” in Portland, Oregon, according to multiple reports. In May, the league had narrowed its list of potential cities to 20, commissioner Cathy Engelbert said.

Engelbert long had touted the Bay Area as a “top candidate” for expansion. And while the area is new to the WNBA, it has hosted professional women’s basketball in the past: The San Jose Lasers played from 1996 to 1998 as part of the defunct American Basketball League.

Additionally, the Bay Area is welcoming another women’s professional sports team. Back in April, the NWSL announced its own expansion team, Bay FC, which will begin play in 2024.

The WNBA is “likely” to add an expansion team in Portland, Oregon, in addition to one in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to multiple reports.

While the league is still in conversations over a second expansion team, Portland is the “likely” landing spot, ESPN reported. Discussions involving a Portland team have reached the league’s Board of Governors, as first reported by The Next.

The WNBA announced the Bay Area expansion team Thursday. The team is set to begin play in 2025, bringing the league to 13 teams overall.

“Our goal is to have a 14th team by 2025,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said Thursday.

The WNBA had been teasing an impending expansion announcement on its social media accounts since Tuesday amid reports of a deal with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors to bring a franchise to the Bay Area. Before this, the WNBA had not expanded since adding the Atlanta Dream in 2008.

While WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert previously had said the league aimed to announce locations for up to two expansion teams by the end of 2022, she walked back that timeline last December. In May, she revealed that the league had narrowed its list of potential cities to 20.

In February, Engelbert attended an an event held at Portland women’s sports bar The Sports Bra to show community support for the addition of a WNBA team in the city.

The WNBA teased an impending (and long-awaited) expansion announcement with a series of social media posts Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Heard you,” the WNBA said in response to a post from Tennessee assistant women’s basketball coach Samantha Williams. Williams’ post, published in May, was similarly short and sweet: “Expand the WNBA.”

Another post from a WNBA fan read: “please expand the WNBA I’m begging.”

“Say pretty please,” the league responded from its official account on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

The WNBA also posted the smirking Kevin James photo that has become a viral meme, leaning into the cheeky tone of their messages.

Finally, the league posted a video with a series of posts asking for expansion, with the caption “10.5” — in reference to Thursday, Oct. 5. And as USA Today reported, the WNBA is set to announce a San Francisco Bay Area team on Thursday.

The social media banter from the league came amid reports of a deal to bring an expansion franchise to the Bay Area. The league has been in discussions with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors for an expansion team, The Athletic and ESPN reported on Sept. 26.

The WNBA has 12 teams, and the Bay Area team will be No. 13. The new team will play its home games at the Chase Center in San Francisco, which also serves as the home of the Warriors, but would be headquartered in Oakland, per reports.

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.