Portland WNBA expansion plans on backburner


WNBA shelves plans for Portland expansion Image: Moda Center, Another Believer, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Commissioner Cathy Engelbert says a potential expansion team in Portland (Oregon, US) has been shelved because of uncertainty about the scope of renovations needed at the Moda Center, where the team would have played.

‘The Seattle Times’ stated that Englebert’s comments came in a letter to the US Senator from Oregon Ron Wyden’s office recently. Wyden was active in trying to lure a WNBA team to Oregon.

New York City (US)-based the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) is an American professional basketball league. It is composed of 12 teams, all based in the United States. The league was founded on April 22nd, 1996, as the women’s counterpart to the National Basketball Association (NBA), and league play started in 1997.

New York (US)-based the National Basketball Association (NBA) is a professional basketball league in North America composed of 30 teams. It is one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada and is considered the premier professional basketball league in the world.

The Moda Center, formerly known as the Rose Garden, is the primary indoor sports arena in Portland, Oregon, United States. It is used for basketball, ice hockey, rodeos, circuses, conventions, ice shows, concerts, and dramatic productions. The arena has a capacity of 19,393 spectators when configured for basketball.

‘The Seattle Times’ further stated that the league had been working with a potential local ownership group, as well as the City and State officials, on a team that would play home games at the home of the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Portland Trail Blazers are an American professional basketball team based in Portland, Oregon, US. The Trail Blazers compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference.

The Blazers are planning to renovate the facility in advance of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Women’s Final Four in 2030. It was anticipated that the work would be done during the Summer months, when the bulk of the WNBA season is played.

Indianapolis (US)-based the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization that regulates student-athletics among about 1,100 schools in the United States and Canada. It also organizes the athletic programs of colleges and helps over 500,000 college student-athletes who compete annually in college sports.

Engelbert’s letter said that in light of the renovation “consideration of a WNBA franchise for Portland will be deferred for now until the timing and scope of the arena improvements are settled”.

Portland had a WNBA team from 2000-2002 that played its games at the then-Rose Garden (Moda Center) before the franchise folded.

The WNBA announced plans last month for an expansion team in the San Francisco Bay Area to begin play in 2025. Engelbert has said she expects the league to add one more expansion team to also launch in 2025.

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