WNBA announces Toronto expansion team for 2026 Season

The WNBA is planning an expansion team in Toronto.
The WNBA is planning an expansion team in Toronto.

By Jill Martin, CNN

(CNN) — The WNBA is planning on adding an expansion franchise in Toronto, according to Canadian news outlet and CNN newsgathering partner CBC.

CBC, citing four people with knowledge of the deal but who are not authorized to speak about it, reports the ownership group will be headed by Toronto billionaire Larry Tanenbaum of Kilmer Sports Inc. The franchise would begin playing in 2026.

CBC reports an announcement is expected May 23. It will be the first WNBA franchise outside of the US.

When reached for comment on the CBC report, a WNBA spokesperson said to CNN: “We continue to engage in productive conversations with interested ownership groups in a number of markets and the granting of any expansion teams requires a vote of the WNBA and NBA Board of Governors.”

CNN is seeking comment from the Kilmer Group, which includes Kilmer Sports. CBC received a statement from Courtney Glen, vice president of public affairs and communications for the Kilmer Group, who said the organization has “no update at this time.”

Tanenbaum is chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Limited and is a governor of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC.

Currently at 12 teams, the league will expand to 13 in 2025 with a team being added in the San Francisco Bay Area. At the WNBA draft in New York on April 15, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said the league’s goal is to have a 14th team in 2026.

Engelbert said at the draft the league has engaged with Toronto, as well as Philadelphia, Portland, Denver, Nashville and South Florida on potential expansion.

Engelbert also said the league hopes to expand to 16 teams and said she is “pretty confident” that could happen by 2028.

“We’re on our way to 16,” Engelbert said. “That will add 48 roster spots in just a couple of years. That, in a league of 144, is a lot. That’s 30 percent. I think it’ll be great when we get those done over the next couple years.”

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