USA Today via Reuters

USA Today via Reuters

The rise of the WNBA ever since its inception in 1996 has been slow but gradual making it one of the most viewed leagues in the world today. While it’s popularity pales in comparison to the NBA the sport continues to rake in bigger audiences year by year making it one of the fastest growing leagues in the world. Composed of 12 teams based in the United States the WNBA like its male counterpart is divided into two conferences with each bearing 6 teams in total. Although having the same structure as the NBA the teams in the WNBA do not regard to conference rankings when qualifying for the playoffs but instead choose the eight best teams by the regular-season record. This particular format although unjust to some allows the best teams during the course of the season to participate in the knockout stages with there being 4 different champions in as many seasons in the WNBA due to the format. While the league today has 12 teams competing for the WNBA crown the number stood at 16 during the start of this century with the number of teams oscillating between 13-14 during the early 2000’s before it was officially cut back to the current 12 in 2010.

The Houston Comets are a great example of the league losing teams as the 4x WNBA champions folded in 2008 with the league struggling to keep team owners from putting their sides on sale. Despite the failure of many franchises during the course of its existence the WNBA and its commissioner Cathy Engelbert continue to look for ways to expand their league as many continue to ask the question of ‘When will the 12-team WNBA expand?’ Although there have been talks of Stephen Curry’s city entering the WNBA bandwagon there has been no expansion team since 2008 leaving many to question will it ever happen? Despite this dilemma the Bay Area looks poised to welcome a new team since 2008 leaving many to wonder which was the last expansion team to be added into the WNBA?

Atlanta Dream – the last WNBA expansion team


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Despite being a regular in the WNBA landscape today the Atlanta Dream are the youngest of all current teams as they joined the league 15 years ago in 2008. Owned by real estate investors Larry Gottesdiener, Suzanne Abair and former Dream player Renee Montgomery the Dream have grown stride by stride as they have become a regular playoff side today. Despite their growing reputation the side wasn’t always this successful and endured a turbulent start to life in the WNBA to say the least.

While a WNBA team in Atlanta was fancied ever since 1996 the efforts did not come together until the beginning of 2007 when an organizing committee with Atlanta politicians began the effort to attract an expansion team. Although five WNBA teams have direct NBA counterparts the Dream did not share ownership with the Hawks as the team at the time was struggling to draw crowds.

This issue prompted the committee to look for investors elsewhere and in came Atlanta businessman Ron Terwilliger who became the first owner of the Atlanta side.

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With an investor in place the foundations for a WNBA expansion team in Atlanta was placed and on October 17th, 2007, the then WNBA president Donna Orender made an announcement that Atlanta would officially be a part of the WNBA next season. While the team was officially in the WNBA the name and the colors of the franchise was still in the air with an online voting poll finally putting that to bed as the poll chose the name Dream with the colors Sky blue, Red and White being picked as the team’s official colors.

Having made the necessary decisions to start a franchise the Dream played its first WNBA game on May 17, 2008, as they lost to the Connecticut Suns. This would be a reoccurring theme during their inaugural season as they lost 17 straight games setting the WNBA all-time record for most consecutive losses. Finishing the season with a 4-30 record the team heavily invested during the next season as they finally started to put up a fight in the coming years.

The 2009 season saw them take the first step in the right direction as they made their first WNBA playoff appearance with coach Marynell Meadors being awarded the Coach of the Year Award for her team’s meteoric rise. During the 2010 season the Atlanta Dream had their best season so far and reached the WNBA Finals eventually losing to the Seattle Storm in a 3-0 sweep.

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Despite the loss the Dream continued its ascent to the top in the coming years as they reached another 2 Finals in 2011 and 2013 failing to win both. Having failed to qualify for the playoffs between 2017-2022 the Atlanta side finally made a return to the playoffs this year with many in the peach state still hoping for a turnaround in fortune as the dream of a WNBA title stays very much alive.

Stephen Curry’s city enters the WNBA bandwagon


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With the last WNBA expansion team coming 15 years ago it just seems right that the league adds another team or two to add to the allure of women’s basketball. While cities like Toronto and Sacramento have been nominated as potential places for an expansion team it seems like Stephen Curry’s city has won the lottery as the Bay Area looks poised to add a WNBA team in its ranks in the near future.

WNBA president Cathy Engelbert had long desired for a team in the Golden State as she once stated that “it wasn’t right” that the home to women’s college basketball powerhouse Stanford Cardinal didn’t have a WNBA team. This particular desire to have a team in San Franscico seems to have been fulfilled now as it was recently announced by Engelbert that seven-time NBA Champion Golden State Warriors would awarded a WNBA expansion team and will play in the league from the 2025 season onwards.

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Becoming the sixth NBA side to have a sister team in the WNBA the new team will be owned and operated by Warriors Co-Executive Chairman and CEO Joe Lacob with their home games being played at Chase Center in San Francisco.

With Stephen Curry’s side now poised to get a new team in the WNBA should we expect his god-sister Cameron Brink who once snubbed his brand for a Boston based company to join the new side in 2025 or will she disregard his side once again? Let us know in the comments below.