WNBA's Sparks, Storm to play preseason game in Canada

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Thursday, March 7, 2024

The WNBA will play a preseason game in Canada for the second consecutive year with the Los Angeles Sparks facing the Seattle Storm on May 5 in Edmonton, Alberta.

The inaugural WNBA Canada Game last season saw the Chicago Sky beat the Minnesota Lynx in front of a sold out crowd in Toronto. That preseason game set records for broadcast viewership, attendance and merchandise sales in Canada.

Toronto is one of the cities that is under consideration for WNBA expansion if the right ownership group can be found. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert stated on a conference call that Golden State would be the only expansion team for 2025, but that they were hoping for more franchises for the 2026 season.

"We continue to spend a lot of time to engage with several interested owners in a number of markets," she said. "I have no news to report at this time. Any teams would begin in 2026 and beyond."

The four-time champion Seattle Storm have had a big offseason, adding free agents Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith to a talented group that includes Ezi Magbegor and Jewell Loyd. Ogwumike had spent her entire career with the Sparks before she left as a free agent this year.

"One of Canada's greatest basketball players, Sparks guard Kia Nurse, is returning to play in front of her Canadian fans as my Los Angeles Sparks take on the Seattle Storm in this year's WNBA Canada Game," Los Angeles Sparks co-owner Magic Johnson said in a statement. "Showcasing some of the league's top talent in Canada is a great opportunity to continue building dedicated WNBA fans outside of the U.S. Last year's game was a sellout and I expect nothing less for the Sparks versus Storm."

This will be the fourth WNBA preseason game outside of the U.S. There were also games in Manchester, England (2011) and Monterrey, Mexico (2004).

Engelbert said that the league would consider playing a regular-season game outside of the U.S., although it would have to be at the right time, most likely not an Olympic year.

"It's something we're thinking about for the future," she said. "We'll be looking at it in years we don't have international competitions to interrupt the season."