Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Thursday sent a letter to the NBA and WNBA presidents, urging them to bring a Women’s National Basketball Association team to Portland.
“A WNBA franchise in my hometown of Portland would be a slam dunk-success for the city and the league,” Wyden wrote to the NBA’s Adam Silver and WNBA’s Cathy Engelbert. “[It] would grow the sport nationally and further deepen the connection between basketball and the city.”
There’s long been rumors of a WNBA team coming back to Portland. Earlier this year, WW reported that two parties were interested in reviving a team here in Portland. One of them was Vancouver, Wash., tech founder Kirk Brown.
Portland previously hosted a professional women’s team.
The Portland Fire—who left town in 2002 after three seasons—posted mediocre statistics. But the team was wildly popular, regularly drawing 8,000 fans to the Rose Garden for games.
The venue issue in Portland is complicated: Rip City Management, an arm of the Trail Blazers’ ownership group Vulcan, is currently under contract with the city to manage and operate both Moda Center and Veterans Memorial Coliseum—where a WNBA team would likely play if it returned. That means Rip City ownership controls all vendors and event scheduling at both venues. (The Blazers told WW earlier this spring they would welcome a women’s team.)
Meanwhile, Nike founder Phil Knight reportedly offered to buy the Blazers for $2 billion. Jody Allen, the sister of late Blazers owner Paul Allen has said the team is not for sale.
Wyden nodded to Knight’s bid in his letter to Silver and Engelbert.
“Please know that I stand ready to offer whatever help I can to protect and build a lasting commitment to the Trail Blazers’ presence in Portland—a commitment that also would be solidified with a WNBA team in my hometown.”