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HomeCanadaToronto selected as Canada’s 1st franchise in women’s pro league

Toronto selected as Canada’s 1st franchise in women’s pro league

Canada: Toronto will be home to Canada’s inaugural Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) team, as officially announced by the league on Thursday.

Kilmer Sports Ventures, led by Toronto businessman Larry Tanenbaum, secured the league’s 14th franchise. The team, yet to be named, is scheduled to commence play in May 2026.

“This team represents Canada on a national level,” Tanenbaum declared during a news conference on Thursday.

“Our team will pave the way for women across the country. They will see that the sport they participate in as girls and women is equally significant and worthy of investment. By acknowledging the value and potential of women’s sports, we move closer to a more equitable future in the realm of sports.”

Kilmer is acquiring the team for $115 million, as reported by The Associated Press on Thursday. The Toronto franchise will follow the league’s 13th team, the Golden State Valkyries, slated to debut next year.

Canada has hosted sold-out WNBA preseason games at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena in 2023 and Edmonton’s Rogers Place on May 4. However, Toronto’s team will initially play at the 8,700-seat Coca-Cola Coliseum at Exhibition Place.

The team will have the option to play at Scotiabank Arena occasionally and intends to host some games in Montreal and Vancouver.

Constructed in 1921, Coca-Cola Coliseum also serves as the home venue for the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies, owned by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, where Tanenbaum holds the position of chairman and minority owner.

Kilmer Sports Ventures, established as an independent entity to manage the team, has committed to constructing a practice facility. Until its completion, the team will train at the University of Toronto’s Goldring Centre for High-Performance Sport.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who attended Thursday’s event alongside WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert and other dignitaries, lauded the announcement.

“For too long, women’s sports have been underreported, underfunded, and underappreciated. But that era is over,” he remarked.

“That era is over because people, especially Canadians, want to witness the most talented women in the world competing at the highest level.”

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