The e-word – expansion – is almost always a hot-button topic among WNBA fans and its ever expanding press corps.
Cities that may be suitable destinations for future franchises are always discussed from San Francisco, to Miami, to Charlotte, to Toronto to Philadelphia and all points in between.
With the entire country of Canada caught up in the fever of the Toronto Raptors’ run to the NBA Finals, CBC asked if Toronto would be a worthy landing spot for a future WNBA franchise.
But when it asked WNBA COO Christy Hedgpeth about the expansion, she attempted to douse cold water on the hot flames.
We have no plans to expand at this time. We are focused on the overall health and competitiveness of our existing 12 franchises.
–WNBA COO Christy Hedgpeth per CBC Toronto
Of course, an argument can be made that Hedgpeth has to say something of the sort given it is the default answer most sports executives use when pressed on the issue of expansion.
We will see if incoming W commissioner Cathy Engelbert says the same thing when her tenure as its new leader begins officially around the All-Star break. She will likely have an introductory press conference in Las Vegas, and she will likely be asked about expansion – as well as the CBA, attendance issues with franchises such as the Atlanta Dream, and other things.
Still, CBC Toronto pressed on with its story and got some very interesting responses, including one from WNBA/NBA player agent Leisa Washington.
A WNBA franchise in Toronto would be monumental. A legacy in the making.
–WNBA/NBA player agent Leisa Washington (per CBC Toronto)
Also asked about the issue was one of the faces of Canadian women’s basketball – current New York Liberty guard Kia Nurse.
…I would absolutely love it and I think it would be great for growing the grassroots program of basketball within Canada.
–Kia Nurse (per CBC Toronto)
Also asked about the idea was former WNBA player Tammy Sutton-Brown, who said she also was pro-expansion but was unsure if the league would pursue it at this time.
They’re being more cautious because they did expand…and then they kind of had to scale back a little bit.
–Former WNBA player Tammy Sutton-Brown (per CBC Toronto)
Dave Zarum once wrote a column on Canada’s SportsNet believing that putting a franchise in Toronto would make a “whole lot of sense.” He obtained a statement from Dave Haggith, the senior director of communications for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the Rogers Communications-owned outlet that owns the Toronto Raptors around the time he wrote the column.
We continue to evaluate all opportunities within women’s professional sports, including the WNBA, to determine whether there could be a franchise in Toronto one day.
Here is how the column was practically summed up.
There’s no compelling argument against establishing a league, or a WNBA franchise, here in Canada.
–Dave Zarum, SportsNet writer