Toronto sports magnate Larry Tanenbaum is actively seeking to establish a WNBA expansion franchise.

Movie DetailerSports Toronto sports magnate Larry Tanenbaum is actively seeking to establish a WNBA expansion franchise.
Billionaire Larry Tanenbaum is in the process of pursuing the establishment of a WNBA expansion team in Toronto, as revealed by CBC Sports. Tanenbaum, a prominent figure as a minority owner and chairman of the Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment conglomerate, which has stake in major sports teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, Toronto Argonauts, and the Toronto Marlies, aims to secure the team through his holding company, the Kilmer Group. Sources, who preferred anonymity due to lack of authorization, disclosed that Tanenbaum’s group is anticipated to engage with WNBA leadership to discuss the bid, with a potential announcement slated for as early as May.

Notably, during a sold-out WNBA pre-season game held at the Scotiabank Arena in May 2023, league commissioner Cathy Englebert had pinpointed Toronto as one of the ten cities under consideration for expansion. Despite this promising development, certain reports surfaced indicating opposition to the bid from Edward Rogers, the chairman of Rogers Communications and a significant stakeholder in MLSE.

In a significant move last October, the WNBA awarded its 13th expansion franchise to the Golden State Warriors of the NBA for a sum of approximately $50 million. Furthermore, plans were in place to award another franchise to a group in Portland; however, this bid was temporarily stalled due to concerns regarding the arena. Englebert expressed the league’s vision of incorporating a 14th team by the year 2025, highlighting ongoing discussions with multiple cities in this regard.

With regards to potential venues, sources have indicated Tanenbaum’s interest in the Coca-Cola Coliseum situated at Toronto’s Exhibition grounds, with a seating capacity of around 8,000 and currently serving as the home venue for the Marlies ice hockey team of the American Hockey League. Furthermore, there have been discussions about the feasibility of constructing a practice facility at the venue, which could also double as a training center for both the men’s and women’s national basketball teams. The purposeful establishment of a professional WNBA team in Toronto has garnered support from various quarters, including Michael Bartlett, the president of Basketball Canada, who emphasized the beneficial impact it would have in promoting women’s basketball within the country.

The projected involvement of former MLSE executive Teresa Resch in the new franchise has also been highlighted. Resch, who recently concluded her role as the vice-president of operations and player development with the Raptors, is anticipated to play a significant role in this new venture.


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