News Net Nebraska

Complete News World

Toronto gets first WNBA team outside the United States

Toronto gets first WNBA team outside the United States

Toronto has secured the first Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) franchise outside the United States, and the expansion team is scheduled to begin play in 2026.

At a news conference Thursday, FIBA ​​Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said there is a “rich history” of women’s basketball in both Canada and Toronto, the country’s largest city.

“We know Toronto is a basketball city,” Engelbert said. “We have seen time and time again that Toronto is home to passionate, passionate basketball fans.”

The announcement comes as women’s basketball – as well as women’s sports in general – has grown in popularity in recent years in North America.

The recent WNBA draft attracted record numbers of viewers, with 2.45 million people tuning in to watch American college basketball star Kaitlyn Clark get selected first by the Indiana Fever.

The league, which hosted its first game in 1997 as an affiliate of the men’s National Basketball Association (NBA), has also seen a steady increase in viewership.

Last year, the WNBA had its most-watched regular season in two decades.

“We are at a critical moment for our tournament,” Engelbert said Thursday.

“We have achieved record attendance numbers, sold season tickets, and grown the game, and the addition of this 14th team represents a particularly important milestone in the league’s continued growth.”

Toronto will be the WNBA’s 14th franchise with the expansion Golden State Valkyries starting next year.

Kilmer Sports Ventures, led by Larry Tannenbaum, is paying $50 million for the yet-to-be-named team.

Tannenbaum is also president and minority owner of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the Toronto sports giant that also owns the National Hockey League’s Maple Leafs and the NBA’s Raptors, among other franchises.

See also  Sampdoria Cagliari, Camploni's work leaves some doubts. Sports newspaper reviews

About a year ago, the WNBA held its first game in Canada, a sold-out show attended by 19,923 fans at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, home of the Raptors.

The WNBA team will play in the Canadian city at the 8,700-seat Coca-Cola Coliseum at Expo Place and will have the option of occasionally traveling to Scotiabank Arena. Opened in 1921, Coca-Cola Coliseum is also the home of the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies.

“I know this is just the beginning of what is to come, and we are honored to be selected as the first franchise outside the United States,” Tannenbaum said at Thursday’s press conference.

He said the team will also play in Vancouver and Montreal in its inaugural season.

Kilmer Sports Ventures, set up as an independent team management company, has committed to building a training facility, but until it is ready, players will train at the University of Toronto’s Goldring Center for High Performance Sports.