The City of Portland, was considered as a front-runner to become the 14th team in the WNBA, will have to wait a little while longer. At least according to a letter from WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden obtained by The Oregonian. The discussions between the league and millionaire Kirk Brown broke down and now the plans to bring a second WNBA franchise to the Pacific Northwest have come to a halt.
According to The Oregonian, a team practice facility was a major point and the plans fell apart “at the 11th hour.” Englebert said that Moda Center renovations are what caused the league to pause the expansion plans. The timing of the improvements coincided with the WNBA season. The new WNBA Franchise would share the Moda Center with the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA.
Brown has stated for over a year that he plans to bring the WNBA to the city. Englebert met with Brown, Wyden and leaders of the major professional and collegiate teams in February. Although, it wouldn’t have been Portland’s first WNBA franchise, the Portland Fire played for three seasons before shuttering in 2002, it would most certainly be a welcome site. Sources told The Oregonian the WNBA expansion fee was $50 million.
There was already a lot of excitement surrounding the new team. An announcement had been expected, many expected it to come a month after the Bay Area had been awarded a WNBA Franchise. Play will begin there in 2025. The expectations are that Portland will still get an expansion team in the near future, but for now those talks have come to a halt.
It remains to be seen if Brown or someone else will restart or take up the conversation about Portland joining the WNBA.
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