Toronto becomes the first international WNBA franchise

The WNBA expansion continues with the addition of Toronto (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) just announced a major development to its already growing league on May 23, 2024.

Following its doubled viewers and followers with the arrival of some of the biggest collegiate hoops stars this season, the WNBA also confirmed that Toronto will be the newest franchise that will join the league effective this 2026.

It was WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert who announced the update, adding that Toronto is the first-ever international franchise that is set to spice up the league.

According to multiple reports, the Toronto team that will be put up will be owned by Kilmer Sports Ventures headed by Larry Tanenbaum.

“Our Toronto sports franchises are thriving, but we have been missing one critical piece, women’s professional sports,” said Tanenbaum.

As the chairman and minority owner of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the tycoon is already not new in the sporting world in Toronto.

It was confirmed that Kilmer Sports Ventures needed $115 million to purchase the team, giving them full authority over the franchise once it starts to operate in 2026.

“So, once again, I saw an opportunity and knew we were in the right place at the right time to bring Canada’s first WNBA team to Toronto. And now we have, making sports history,” added Tanenbaum.

Currently, the WNBA experienced a major spike in its viewership and in-game ticket sales after Caitlyn Clark, the superstar out of IOWA who broke records in the NCAA with her scoring prowess, decided to enter the draft and play for the Indiana Fever.

Aside from Clark, several NCAA superstars also headed straight to the pros including Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso.

As of this writing, the Toronto franchise is yet to name its full coaching pool, players, staff, and front office management members.


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