Senator Wyden, local business leaders work to bring WNBA team to city

Senator Wyden held a press conference Friday about a letter from Portland businesses to the WNBA, expressing hope for the city to host a team.
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 6:21 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - In April, more than a hundred local business leaders and owners summitted a letter to to WNBA commissioner Catherine Engelbert to support bringing a WNBA team to Portland.

The letter from Sport Oregon was signed by more than 140 local business.

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On Friday, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden held a press conference to speak about how this letter can help with that decision.

“She’s going to be hearing from dozens upon dozens of local businesses, one clear and one last message: ‘Rip City is poised to be a WNBA city,’” says Wyden. “We know that there are other cities out there, but we don’t know the word no and disappoint and all the rest we’re here because we believe.”

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Jim Etzel, Sport Oregon CEO, says, “It was an affirmation of the unrivaled support that our community gives its teams and events, particularly when it comes to women athletes.”

The WNBA hopes to announce to new teams by the end of 2023.

The Sport Oregon Letter:

April 20, 2023

Commissioner Catherine Engelbert Women’s National Basketball Association Two Pennsylvania Plaza

New York, NY 10121

Dear Commissioner Engelbert,

Thank you for accepting and attending Senator Wyden’s invitation to the February 6, 2023 roundtable in Portland about Oregon’s proven and sustained enthusiasm for women’s sports, and how that would translate into strong support for a WNBA expansion franchise in town.

We wholeheartedly echo what you heard during the roundtable at the Sports Bra from executives representing the Portland Trail Blazers and Portland Thorns as well as former WNBA coaches and players along with coaches and players from the University of Oregon and Oregon State University – namely that our city and state are perfectly poised to add a flagship franchise for the WNBA.

Sport Oregon, our state’s “sports commission” with 150+ members represents the breadth of businesses and business organizations that are dedicated to supporting, engaging and celebrating girls and women in sports across our state. We all stand in firm belief that our city and state are the right choice for a WNBA expansion team. Our community is more than ready, and our passion for women’s sports is deeply rooted.

Last November Portland was selected to host the 2030 NCAA Women’s Final Four — the largest annual women’s sporting event in the country. It’s an affirmation of the unrivaled support that our community gives its teams and events, particularly when it comes to women’s athletics.

The business community, here in Portland, the greater Portland metro area and throughout the state is 100% committed to supporting a WNBA team. The undersigned names and corporate logos listed on the following pages strongly support the effort to bring a WNBA team to Portland. More businesses continue to be added to the list.

We believe there is no better time to bring the WNBA to Portland than now. Our city and state would be a significant additive to the current momentum and growth of the WNBA.

We know from our own experience with the Thorns and NCAA women’s basketball tournament regional games in Portland that a WNBA franchise with 20 home dates in the Rose Quarter would generate jobs and economic activity. And we can assure you that our business community would support a WNBA team with ticket purchases, sponsorships and through other opportunities that may be presented.

Just as the NWSL has benefited from a signature franchise in Portland and the NCAA has chosen Portland to host the 2030 NCAA Women’s Final Four, we believe the WNBA would reap significant and ongoing benefits from expanding to Portland.


Jim Etzel

CEO, Sport Oregon