The WNBA will reportedly take a big first step in its expansion plans this week.
Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and other league officials plan to visit Denver Wednesday to meet with local investors and tour potential playing sites for a new team, according to the Denver Post. Those locations reportedly include Ball Arena —where the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche play — as well the University of Denver’s Magness Arena.
The group Engelbert will reportedly meet with 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. Dimond’s daughter, Ashley, is the director of strategy.
All three declined comment to the Post.
Denver was one of the 10 cities Engelbert revealed was being discussed as a possible expansion location. It’s also one only a few major cities that doesn’t have a professional sports team for women. The other possible candidates were Nashville, Toronto, Austin, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Portland and the Bay Area.
Although the WNBA said this past December it would not announce it’s 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 with the assertion that the league is “working very hard on expansion” because it needs “more than 12 teams,” which would open up more roster spots and therefore more opportunities for more players.
WNBA players, meanwhile, aren’t nearly as adamant about the addition of new teams. That’s mostly because some believe there are bigger issues facing the league — such as chartered flights and salary benefits.
“I understand expansion is important, I understand growing the league, I understand growing in cities, and I do think that’s something to come,” Las Vegas Aces guard and WNBAP vice president Kelsey Plum said in July. “I don’t think that should take precedence over charter flights. I don’t think that should take precedence over salary benefits. And I think that we’ve taken steps in the right direction, but I think if you were to poll the players right now and ask them, ‘Would you rather have expansion or charter?’ I think it’s [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 were valued at $151 million, which is a record for the WNBA.
For now, Denver has a head start if the WNBA officials like what they see.