If the WNBA’s collective bargaining agreement negotiations with the players’ union are contentious enough, it puts the prospect of a 2020 season in doubt.
Regardless, the official bid for a team in Toronto posted on its social media accounts that it does intend to file paperwork to the league which would be in time for a franchise to be established and ready to take the court in the 2020 season.
— WNBA Toronto (@wnbatoronto) July 7, 2019
It would be the first time the WNBA would have a team in Canada.
Max Abrahams and Daniel Escott recently announced themselves as founders of the WNBA Toronto Bid Leadership Committee. They did an interview recently with The Gist where they discussed a host of issues related to bringing the W to Canada from their inspiration behind the bid, to what last year’s Toronto Raptors NBA championship team did in galvanizing basketball throughout Canada, to how the WNBA is mostly an American sport, to representation for women in sports to where will they play.
Whenever this question has been put to WNBA brass, Christy Hedgpeth, the league’s COO, has said that expansion is not on the W’s brain at the moment and the focus has been on improving the health of the 12 incumbent franchises.
That may be true, but Hedgpeth cannot deny that Canada is being looked at with a more seductive eye by the WNBA higher-ups. If it wasn’t, why did the league announce a robust schedule with games being broadcast on three major Canadian sports channels – TSN, SportsNet and NBA TV Canada.
The first time incoming WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert stages a press conference, which likely will be at the All-Star Game in Las Vegas, she will likely be asked about this very issue that has WNBA watercoolers surely abuzz.
The profile of Canadian basketball is only growing even in the United States with figures like Kia Nurse becoming a star stateside with the New York Liberty – the WNBA’s flagship franchise. And the Raptors’ title did help as well even if Kawhi Leonard will return stateside to play alongside Paul George with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2019-20.
The question that remains is if Toronto gets a team, will it be via expansion or relocation? Could a team like the Atlanta Dream or Dallas Wings head north to Canada or would the WNBA consider Toronto and San Francisco as the next two cities where it would expand? Only time will tell.