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Friday, March 1, 2024
March 1, 2024

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Potential WNBA expansion team for Portland shelved for now

Timing of renovations to Moda Center was a concern

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PORTLAND — WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert says a potential expansion team in Portland has been shelved because of uncertainty about the scope of renovations needed at the Moda Center, where the team would have played.

Englebert’s comments came in a letter to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden’s office dated Wednesday. Wyden was active in trying to lure a WNBA team to Oregon.

The league had been working with a potential local ownership group, as well as city and state officials, on a team that would play home games at the home of the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Blazers are planning to renovate the facility in advance of the NCAA Women’s Final Four in 2030. It was anticipated the work would be done during the summer months, when the bulk of the WNBA season is played.

Engelbert’s letter said that in light of the renovation “consideration of a WNBA franchise for Portland will be deferred for now until the timing and scope of the arena improvements are settled.”

The decision to scuttle plans for a potential franchise in Portland was first reported Wednesday by The Oregonian.

The Portland Fire played in the WNBA from 2000-02 at the then-named Rose Garden Arena before the franchise folded.

The WNBA announced plans last month for an expansion team in the San Francisco Bay Area to begin play in 2025. Engelbert has said she expects the league to add one more expansion team to also launch in 2025.

The WNBA, which currently has 12 teams, last expanded in 2008 with the addition of the Atlanta Dream.

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