Don’t hold your breath waiting for the WNBA to come back to Houston

The WNBA will be expanding from 12 to 16 teams by 2028. Houston is not on their list of potential new locations.

The WNBA is looking to continue growing in the next few years. The league intends to reach 16 teams by 2028, commissioner Cathy Engelbert said before the draft, confirming The Athletic report from earlier Monday.

The league announced earlier this year that the Bay Area would receive an expansion team for a 13th league franchise, which is expected to start playing the 2025 season. The WNBA is looking at the 2026 season for its 14th team, Engelbert said. She named Philadelphia; Toronto; Portland, Ore.; Denver; Nashville, Tenn.; and South Florida as places the league is exploring as options. Charlotte, N.C., is also in consideration for the next team, sources with knowledge of the league’s plans told The Athletic.

“We’re talking to a lot of different cities,” Engelbert said. “I think I’ve thrown out names before. It’s complex because you need an arena and a practice facility and player housing and all the things, you need committed long-term ownership groups. The nice thing is we’re getting a lot of calls.”

The WNBA was close to bringing a team to Portland. The city was in strong consideration this fall, but those plans fell through during talks with the prospective ownership group.

Engelbert didn’t put a timeline on when the league would decide on its next city and ownership group. “These can either take a very long time to negotiate or can happen pretty quickly if you find the right ownership group with the right arena situation,” she said.

Engelbert added that 2026 “is definitely our goal,” but clarified it could be within a year or two of that for adding a team. She said she felt confident naming 2028 as an endpoint for having 16 teams.

As the story notes, the league’s current TV deals expire at the end of next year, so expanding gives the league a bigger footprint and more inventory of games for TV, both of which should help them in negotiations. Honestly, I think they should have expanded years ago, to facilitate growth. Be that as it may, the influx of high-profile talent and increased interest in the league as a result makes this an obvious move. And while I think Houston would be a fine place for the league to return to, it will take more than a few words in passing from someone like Tilman Fertitta to get on the radar. The league may keep going after it hits 16 teams, but why wait? We know how to put together an attractive package for a sporting event. Surely we can do the same for a WNBA franchise. There’s still time, Tilman, and if it’s not for you then surely someone else could do it. Act now while you still can.

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One Response to Don’t hold your breath waiting for the WNBA to come back to Houston

  1. Bill Shirley says:

    Kaitlin Clark gave shoutouts to two previous Houston Comets players in her SNL appearance last weekend.

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