WNBA announces Bay Area expansion team to begin play in 2025

The Golden State Warriors have been one of the most successful NBA franchises over the past decade. They want to do the same in the WNBA, which announced Thursday morning that it has approved the organization as an expansion franchise starting in the 2025 season.

“We’re coming here, first, to win,” Warriors president Joe Lacob told ESPN. “Secondly, we want to see this league and women’s basketball grow, and we hope to be a big part of it.

“We think it’s a watershed event for us to come in and commit to it in a big way. We’ll bring all our resources. We can run this machine, and we will.”

The Warriors ranked No. 1 in Forbes’ latest $7 billion NBA valuation, largely due to the massive success of San Francisco’s Chase Center, a state-of-the-art, privately financed arena that opened in 2019. And corporate sponsorship.

Lacob said he intends to put the full force of the Warriors’ business structure behind the new WNBA franchise.

“I think we’ll have the No. 1 revenue of any WNBA team,” he said. “And I think we can do very well as a company because we know how to do it. We have all the facilities, we can bring sponsorship money to the team and ultimately to the league which will help the league tremendously.” road.”

The team will play its games at Chase Center and practice in Oakland, where the Warriors trained until 2019.

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As such, Lacob said, the new franchise will likely be known as “Golden State” to reflect the fan base across the entire Bay Area. However, internal discussions will continue over the next few months about whether to be called the Warriors or another name, as well as about uniforms and logos.

This marks a full-circle moment for Lacob, 67, who began his journey as a sports franchise owner in 1996 with the NBA’s San Jose Lasers. He also had minority ownership in the league, which was discontinued in 1998.

Lacob said the failure of the ABL, which initially had superior talent to the WNBA with 11 of the 12 players on the 1996 U.S. Olympic team, has always been a source of regret for him.

“We were swinging and juggling during basketball season, which I still think is the right way to do it,” he said. “We were selling out, and we were doing really well. But we couldn’t get the TV contract. That was the killer. And I personally lost, I can tell you, more than $10 million — which was a lot of money at the time.” “.

The ABL also faced competition from the WNBA, which began play in 1997 and had the full power of the NBA behind its eight original franchises.

The league expanded to 16 teams by the 2000 season, but several franchises folded or moved over the next decade. The WNBA has been cautious about expansion since 2008, when the Atlanta Dream was added.

There have been renewed calls for expansion in recent years as the league’s popularity has grown. The WNBA will continue to discuss adding a second expansion team, likely Portland, but league sources told ESPN those plans have not been finalized.

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The Bay Area has long been viewed as a good option for expansion due to the strong women’s basketball fan base of Stanford and UC Berkeley as well as the Sacramento Monarchs, one of the original WNBA teams.

Lacob said he has been a longtime fan of the Stanford men’s and women’s basketball teams.

“My boys and girls played basketball,” Lacob said. “And I was very interested in men’s and women’s basketball at Stanford. That was one of the reasons I decided to try out for the ABL [and the Lasers].

“So this is a big deal for me. The only reason it took all these years, 25 years or so, is because when I bought the Warriors [in 2010]We had to manage the team. That was a few years ago. It then took seven years to build the stadium, which was an enormous investment of time and money. Finally, just when I was ready to go, the pandemic hit. Years have passed, and here we are now.”

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