WNBA franchise awarded to Toronto for 2026 season, per reports

The WNBA is heading to Toronto, according to media reports.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the women’s professional basketball league awarded a franchise to the Kilmer Group. The reported deal would have Toronto’s WNBA team start playing in May 2026.

The WNBA did not confirm the report.

“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,” the league said.

Larry Tanenbaum is the chairman and CEO of Kilmer Group and the chairman of the board for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. He also owns 25% of MLSE through Kilmer’s holdings.

Adding a team in Toronto would be the first outside the U.S. for the WNBA, which begins its 28th season next week.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said at the league’s draft last month that she hopes to expand to 16 teams by the 2028 season. Toronto was one of the cities she mentioned when talking about its expansion. Other cities mentioned by Engelbert for possible expansion were Philadelphia, Portland, Denver and Nashville, as well as the South Florida region.

The new Toronto club would be the 14th team in the WNBA. An expansion franchise in Golden State is set to join the league in 2025.

The Toronto team will reportedly play at the 8,000-seat Coca-Cola Coliseum, which hosts the AHL’s Marlies and PWHL’s Toronto franchise.

Canada has hosted two sold-out WNBA pre-season games in the past two years. Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena was at capacity to see the Chicago Sky defeat the Minnesota Lynx, 82-74 in 2023. Edmonton’s Rogers Place was also filled as the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Seattle Storm, 84-79, on Saturday.

The league announced on Thursday that it would have charter flights starting this season, a move that would also help in expanding to Canada.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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Women's National Basketball Association

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