The WNBA will reportedly take a major first step in its expansion plans this week.
Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and other league officials plan to visit Denver on Wednesday to meet with local investors and explore potential play sites for a new team, according to the Denver mail. Those venues reportedly include Ball Arena — where the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche play — as well as the University of Denver’s Magness Arena.
The group Engelbert will reportedly meet includes Robert Cohen, Navin Dimond and Ashley Dimond. Cohen is the chairman and CEO of the financial services company IMA Financial Group, while Dimond is the CEO and co-founder of a hospitality and hotel development company, Stonebridge. Diamond’s daughter, Ashley, is the director of strategy.
All three declined to comment on the Post.
Denver was one of 10 cities discussed as a possible expansion site, according to Engelbert. It is also one of the few major cities not to have a professional women’s sports team. The other possible candidates were Nashville, Toronto, Austin, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Portland and the Bay Area.
While the WNBA said last December it would not announce its expansion plans by the end of 2023, the league hoped to add at least one new team for the 2025 season. Engelbert doubled down on Aug. 6, claiming that the league is “working very hard to expansion” because it needs “more than 12 teams”, which would open more squad places and thus more opportunities for more players.
WNBA players, meanwhile, aren’t nearly as adamant about the addition of new teams. That’s mainly because some believe there are bigger issues facing the competition, such as charter flights and salary benefits.
“I understand that expansion is important, I understand that the league is growing, I understand that growing in cities, and I really think that’s going to be a thing,” Las Vegas Aces guard and WNBAP vice president Kelsey Plum said in July. “I don’t think they have priority over charter flights. I don’t think that should take precedence over pay benefits. And I think we’ve taken steps in the right direction, but I think if you questioned the players now and would ask them, “Would you rather have an extension or charter?” i think it is [a] pretty clear consensus across the board.”
The price for an expansion team remains unclear. The Wall Street Journal reported in January that the Seattle Storm was valued at $151 million, which is a record for the WNBA.
For now, Denver has an edge if the WNBA officials like what they see.