Warriors finalizing agreement to bring WNBA team to Bay Area: Sources

The Golden State Warriors are on the verge of bringing a WNBA franchise to the Bay Area, as confirmed by multiple informed sources.

While the deal is not yet completed and some details still need to be worked out, if finalized, the franchise will play its games at Chase Center and be headquartered in Oakland at the team’s practice facility, which the organization continues to own and utilize to maintain a presence in the community. An official announcement is expected in early October.

A WNBA franchise would hold significant sentimental value for Warriors owner Joe Lacob, who has been a dedicated supporter of American women’s basketball. In fact, he played a pivotal role in establishing the American Basketball League (ABL) in 1996. Lacob owned the San Jose Lasers, a team led by Stanford star Jennifer Azzi and Sheri Sam.

However, the WNBA came into existence in June 1997 and, unfortunately, the ABL folded by December 1998. Since then, the Bay Area has been without a women’s professional team.

Over the past few years, the WNBA has expressed its intentions to expand. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced in May that the league aims to add one or two teams by 2025. Given the passionate following for women’s basketball in the Bay Area, it was widely assumed that the Warriors would be the preferred ownership group if the league were to expand to this region.

The Warriors possess the necessary financial resources, a state-of-the-art arena, and a reputable image. The utilization of Chase Center as the home venue for the new WNBA team is a significant advantage, granting the ownership group year-round control over scheduling. However, any potential agreement must receive approval from the WNBA Board of Governors. A league spokesperson confirmed that “discussions with potential new ownership groups continue to progress in the right direction.”

Lacob has long desired a WNBA team, but the question was whether the timing was right for the Warriors. They had only relocated to San Francisco in 2019 and were still recovering from the impact of the pandemic when the talks of expansion began.

However, the current circumstances are favorable for the Warriors, who clinched an NBA championship in 2022 and remain as one of the most financially successful and esteemed sports franchises globally. In response to The Athletic‘s report, the Warriors issued a statement on Tuesday night: “We have engaged in constructive discussions with the WNBA and anticipate the possibility of participating in the league’s expansion plans. Nevertheless, it is premature to assume that any potential agreement has reached its final stage.”

— Contributed to this report: Mike Vorkunov (The Athletic)

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(Photo: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)


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