WNBA brass typically prefers to be mum on expansion talk, but WNBA Twitter is anything but when any news pertaining to the e-word is mentioned.
Since the WNBA already has the New York Liberty, Los Angeles Sparks and Chicago Sky occupying the country’s top three media markets, it only makes sense for the W to eventually place at team in its fourth largest market – the San Francisco Bay Area.
If there is any talk of expansion, mention of the Bay Area or either of its three flagships locales is not all that far behind. Recent speculation hints at the idea that expansion to the Bay Area is all but a given if and when the WNBA finally does decide to expand.
The only question is which ownership group will get the blessing of the W to start a Bay Area franchise. There is the WNBA Oakland group which includes former Sparks player Alana Beard. Former Sparks general manager Penny Toler was also at a Zoom press conference to advertise the Oakland effort and its vice mayor and city council member Rebecca Kaplan is also been a major champion of the bid.
Then there is a bid that perhaps will have more financial muscle than that of the WNBA Oakland group – and that is one led by Joe Lacob, the owner of the Golden State Warriors. Lacob would likely want a WNBA team to play its games at Chase Center in San Francisco, the current home court of the defending NBA champions. The WNBA Oakland group has a plan for Oakland Arena – formerly the Oracle Arena where the Warriors used to call home – to be the new home of a WNBA team for Oakland.
Our educated guess is that when the WNBA finally does to decide, it will expand by two teams and that will likely be a continued topic of discussion throughout the next few years. The second city that the W could go to along with the San Francisco Bay Area could be Nashville, Philadelphia, Charlotte or Toronto but our guess is that it will likely go to a city east of the Mississippi River.
In terms of the Bay Area discussion, there is a strong case to be made for why Oakland ought to get the blessing of the WNBA over San Francisco.
Oakland has lost two of its major sports franchises to other cities. It lost the Warriors to The City and it lost, to Las Vegas, the Raiders – currently owned by Mark Davis who also owns this year’s WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces. Do not let the recent political and financial news regarding The Town fool one – Oakland is a passionate sports city. Look at how it supported the Raiders all of those years. Look at how it turned Oracle Arena into one of the best home court advantages in the NBA when the Dubs played in the East Bay.
Oakland has the Athletics, but it has plenty of issues. A’s ticket prices are sky high, the team is struggling, the owners seem to be wishy washy on whether or not to stay in Oakland or join Davis in Sin City and the franchise is getting more attention nowadays for hanky panky in the stands among fans than anything going on with the team.
When the Warriors won championships and paraded through Oakland’s streets, the whole of The Town was painted in blue and gold. Dub Nation came out in full force to support its team.
Another big reason for Oakland is demographics. Oakland and Alameda County is arguably the hub of Black culture on the west coast – even though south LA may have something to say about that. Oakland – similar to the rest of the Bay Area – also has a huge LGBTQIA community – a populace that has embraced the W virtually since its founding. Oakland – similar to the rest of the Bay Area – also has major Latino and Asian populations and the WNBA would be foolhardy to not make a push for these communities especially given Brown people are the largest minority group in the United States.
(side note – let’s start capitalizing the B in Brown as we do the B in Black).
Another reason for Oakland over other areas of the Bay Area is it is more likely to embrace a team as its own by those that eat, drink, live, breathe, sleep and bleed The Town. An Oakland team would not run into the issue that the San Francisco 49ers ran into when they moved to Santa Clara where deep-pocketed folks bought up the Levi’s Stadium tickets and attending a Niners game nowadays is nothing like when the team played at the old Candlestick Park.
To a lesser extent, the Warriors have also ran into this issue in San Francisco given how much of a white-collar tech hub the whole of the Bay Area (including Oakland) is. An Oakland WNBA team would not run into this issue. We see how passionate it is for sports – particularly basketball. The fans that would attend its games will ride for the East Yay come hell or high water and one will see no shortage of diversity in the stands at Oakland Arena.
All that is missing is a team name, logo, colors, merchandise, a front office, coaches and players. A WNBA team to revitalize the sports scene in Oakland and Alameda County sounds like a hella good idea to us.