In Spotlight of Finals, WNBA Announces Expansion
On Sunday the WNBA tips off its dream finals: the New York Liberty, the second best team in the league, vs. the Las Vegas Aces, the best team and defending champions.
WNBA betting is way up this season, as is attendance and television ratings. And having the league’s two most marketable teams playing the best basketball as the season ends is a dream.
The league didn’t announce its expansion news on Thursday because of which teams advanced to the finals. But they were more than happy to take advantage of the timing.
Bay Area and Portland Getting Franchises
The WNBA confirmed that one of the two new teams that will begin play in 2025 has been awarded to the Golden State Warriors of the NBA. Golden State becomes the sixth NBA team to own a WNBA team, joining the Brooklyn Nets (Liberty), Phoenix Suns (Mercury), Indiana Pacers (Fever), Minnesota Timberwolves (Lynx), and Washington Wizards (Mystics).
The new WNBA team will play at Chase Center in San Francisco, and it has yet to get a name. It will be owned and operated by Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber, and the team’s headquarters and practice facility will be at the Warriors’ old facility across the bay in Oakland.
This is the league’s first expansion since 2008, and the Warriors ownership group has committed $50 million to the new team. That’s not all that much when you consider the Phoenix Mercury are spending $100 million on a new training facility, and the Aces just moved into their own $40 million practice facility.
In Forbes most recent evaluation, the Warriors were valued at $7 billion, which is the most in the NBA.
The WNBA hasn’t made an official decision to give its second expansion team to Portland. But all expectations are that a formal announcement is coming soon. The ownership group in Portland is led by Kirk Brown, a tech billionaire from Vancouver, Washington, that has been trying for two years to bring women’s professional basketball back to Portland. The Portland Fire were a WNBA team affiliated with the NBA’s Trail Blazers, but they folded in 2002.
The two expansion teams will bring the league to 14 teams, which is where the league was in 2008. It will also lead to realignment, since both new franchises will be in the Western Conference.
Liberty vs. Aces Finals
It’s all good news for a league that saw its highest television viewership in 21 years, had its highest ratings for the WNBA Draft, and saw its in-game attendance hit its highest mark in 13 years.
Those numbers, as well as the more than doubling of WNBA wagers from last year to this year, should only go up with the finals, beginning on Sunday in Las Vegas.
The match has this year’s MVP, Liberty forward Breanna Stewart, vs. last year’s MVP, Aces forward A’ja Wilson. We also have the two teams that saw the biggest increase in attendance over last year.
BetUS.com has the Aces as the favorite to win the series, paying -195. A Liberty championship, which would be a first for the franchise, is paying +170.
In Game 1 in the best-of-five series, the Aces are favored by 4.5 points. Get in your final WNBA bets of the season.