Just over a week ago, it was reported that Joe Lacob and the rest of the Golden State Warriors ownership group had been an awarded a WNBA expansion team. And now it’s official, Lacob, other high-ranking Warriors officials, and WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert were all at Chase Center on Thursday morning to officially announce the news that a 13th WNBA team will enter the fray for the 2025 season.
The team, which does not yet have a name, will have their basketball operations (business and practice) take place in Oakland, where the Warriors still own their old facilities. The games will be played at Chase Center in San Francisco, a new arena that former team president and current adviser Rick Welts once told me had been designed with the ability to mimic the acoustics and ambiance of a smaller arena if necessary.
It’s an historic and exciting day for Bay Area sports, and comes just a few months after the announcement that an NWSL team was Bay Area-bound, too (with Andre Iguodala as part of the ownership group).
“The right time, the right moment, is now.”— C.J. Holmes (@CjHolmes22) October 5, 2023
The WNBA is coming to the Bay Area. pic.twitter.com/tXZVpBI3Va
Expansion to the Bay Area has long been a topic in the WNBA, which hasn’t had an expansion franchise since 2008. The Bay Area is one of the great basketball cities in the country, has a strong thirst for women’s sports, and is home to one of the greatest women’s college basketball programs in the country.
It’s not the first foray into professional women’s basketball in the region, though, or even Lacob’s. Lacob owned the San Jose Lasers, a team in the American Basketball League, which folded during its third season as the WNBA started to take off. And if you go inland you’ll find the Sacramento Monarchs, one of the original WNBA teams, which won a championship in 2005 before folding in 2009.
The Warriors taking on an expansion team is huge for the WNBA, as it comes with a near guarantee that Lacob — who uses his checkbook as a provider for, not an obstacle to success — will give the team the devotion and financial backing it deserves. That was made clear during the introductory press conference, when Engelbert hinted at a very large expansion fee.
Cathy Engelbert declined to name the expansion fee Joe Lacob and Co. paid, but she called it "record-breaking" and "significant."— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) October 5, 2023
That fee may never be known, but Yahoo Sports reported that it is $50 million.
Engelbert revealed that the league is aiming for a second expansion team for 2025, giving the W an even 14 teams. Many cities have been floated, though the most momentum seems to be coming from Toronto.
Soon we’ll have Bay Area basketball to cheer for all year long. And what a wonderful thing that is!