The prospect of a WNBA franchise in the San Francisco Bay Area has been one of the more hot-button topics within W circles.
It appears the idea has garnered the interest of people within Golden State Warriors brass as well.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle has reported that the Warriors are putting a WNBA franchise for the Bay Area on their radar once their new arena in San Francisco is complete. The Warriors will move from Oakland’s Oracle Arena to the Chase Center in Mission Bay starting with the 2019-2020 NBA season.
It’s definitely something on our radar, but timing is a consideration for us.
–Rick Welts, Warriors president
We’ve talked to the league several times about what it would look like, but in reality, we have a lot on our plate right now with the new arena.
Despite our enthusiasm for women’s basketball, the time isn’t right with everything else going on, but we have great interest. I think there is a real opportunity here.
One ponders if one of those occasions where the league and Warriors spoke occurred during last NBA’s season’s Finals – when WNBA president Lisa Borders made a trip out to the San Francisco Bay Area for a Warriors/Cavaliers Finals contest.
San Francisco currently stands as the largest media market without a WNBA team. Sacramento, which is approximately less than a two hour drive from Oakland, was home to a WNBA franchise – the Monarchs from 1997-2009. It is also a city that has many fans of the other Bay Area-based sports teams.
Joe Lacob, the current Warriors owner, also once owned the San Jose Lasers of the ABL from 1996-1998. According to Jennifer Azzi, who formerly played in the ABL and was most recently the head coach at the women’s basketball program at the University of San Francisco, Lacob wants a team.
Joe’s outright said he would like a WNBA team.
–Jennifer Azzi per the San Francisco Chronicle
As expansion continues to be discussed in WNBA and women’s basketball circles, one question that always arises is where to put some of the teams. One idea is to place teams in areas where there are thriving women’s college basketball programs which is why Knoxville (are you listening, Grizzlies?) and Columbia (are you listening, Hornets?) are two cities sometimes that gets mentioned.
The Bay Area does not have this problem with Cal-Berkeley and Stanford, the alma mater of the Ogwumike sisters, in the area.