Less than a month after Portland was named a frontrunner to receive the WNBA's next expansion franchise, the city is now out of the running entirely.
According to ESPN, the reason that Portland is no longer under consideration is because the Moda Center — home to the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers and where a Portland-based WNBA team would also play — is about to undergo construction.
In a letter from WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Engelbert wrote, "in light of the potential renovation of the Moda Center currently anticipated to take place during consecutive summers, consideration of a WNBA franchise for Portland will be deferred for now until the timing and scope of the arena improvements are settled."
This news is a tough blow for Portland fans who, just one month ago, seemed likely to have a WNBA franchise playing in their city as soon as 2025.
Although not all hope is lost. While receiving the WNBA's next expansion team (after one is already coming to the San Francisco Bay Area) is off the table, Engelbert did indicate an intention to bring a franchise to Portland down the line.
"It became clear that Portland is an ideal destination for a WNBA franchise," Engelbert wrote in the aforementioned letter. "When the time is right, we look forward to pursuing prospects for bringing the WNBA to Portland."
So while a WNBA team playing in Portland isn't in the cards for 2025, the WNBA clearly hasn't abandoned the city in its longer term expansion plans.
Senator Wyden doubled down on Engelbert's optimism, with his team telling ESPN, "Senator Wyden is committed to continue working hard with everybody in Portland who's teaming up to bring our city and state a WNBA franchise. Portland and all of Oregon have long proven a hotbed for women's sports, and he has no doubt the WNBA would succeed here in a similar fashion."
Portland has proven its appetite for women's sports. Not only did the city have a former WNBA franchise — the Portland Fire, which joined the league in 2000 but was dissolved in 2002 — but local basketball fans frequently attend both Oregon and Oregon State women's games, as well.
Now the WNBA will look to resume its expansion efforts in other cities. Per previous comments from Engelbert, expect Denver, Philadelphia, Charlotte, and Nashville to be included in the conversation.
Hopefully those four cities' stadiums aren't under construction.
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