Four Cities Perfect for WNBA Expansion

Fans have been clamoring for expansion following the 2021 WNBA Draft.

By Savannah Moore

Earlier this week, the Chicago Sky waived two of the top 10 picks in the 2021 WNBA draft, Shyla Heal and Stephanie Watts, after only four games. The Sky also waived fan favorite Lexie Brown to make room for the returning Allie Quigley. This series of cuts comes shortly after the New York Liberty surprised fans last week by waiving Layshia Clarendon, who was a starter for the team during the 2020 season.

These series of cuts have added fuel to the expansion conversation that began shortly after the 2021 WNBA draft, after several top prospects fell into the second round. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said that discussions for expansion will be had after the 2021 season is complete, but I have already got a headstart for you, Miss Commissioner. Below are four cities that are just perfect for the next WNBA Franchise ranked.

4. Toronto

Basketball has seen increasing popularity in Canada due to the Toronto Raptors recent NBA championship victory, so it is the perfect place to put a new WNBA franchise. There are currently the Canadians in the W who could help create some excitement back home, such as Briget Carleton, Natalie Achonwa, and 2019 All-Star Kia Nurse. All three players are members of Canada’s National Team, and Achonwa is a Toronto native.

Possible Names: Ice, Owls, Wolverines

Honorable Mention: Vancouver

If the WNBA decides that Toronto has too much competition, they can take a trip across Canada to Vancouver. Vancouver was home to the NBA expansion team the Vancouver Grizzlies for six years before the team relocated to Memphis. A WNBA franchise can fill the void in the hearts of Vancouver basketball fans who lost their team. 

3. Nashville

In 2001, the Mohegan Sun Native American tribe decided to purchase the WNBA’s Orlando Miracle and move the team to Connecticut in order to capitalize on the built-in women’s basketball fan base that existed in Connecticut due to the success of the UConn Huskies. 

Perhaps the same could be done in Tennessee.The legacy of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers makes the state an ideal place to put the next great WNBA franchise. Tennessee’s basketball program has produced several WNBA stars  like Candace Parker, Tamika Catchings, and Chamique Holdsclaw. Tennessee’s capital, Nashville, is the state’s most populated city and is popular for its music and nightlife. It is also only two hours from Knoxville, where the University of Tennessee is located.

Possible Names: Rollers, Nighthawks, Firebirds

Honorable Mention: Memphis

If Nashville is unavailable, the WNBA can look into moving to Memphis, a town full of basketball fans due to the success of the Memphis Grizzlies.

2. Philadelphia 

Washington Mystics guard Natasha cloud has actively been campaigning and pushing for a WNBA team in her home state of Pennsylvania, specifically Philadelphia. Philly is home to some of the most loyal and aggressive fans in all of the United States, which creates the potential to have an exciting franchise in the city. Cloud has stated that she’s already made significant strides in securing a franchise for Philadelphia, so maybe this will actually happen much sooner than we think.

Possible Names: Founders, Fury, Soul

1. Houston

The Houston Comets of the late 90s and early 2000s were one of the most dominant teams in all of sports. The team established the WNBA first big three. Cynthia Cooper, Cheryl Swoopes, and Tina Thompson led the Comets to four straight WNBA championships. In doing so, they made the Comets one of the most popular teams in the league. Not only is Houston a popular city for basketball, shown by the continued success of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, but the people in the city have already shown that they will support a WNBA team.

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