WNBA Basketball Commissioner Says She Is “Actively Considering” Portland for a WNBA Franchise

The glimmer of hope was in response to a letter Sen. Ron Wyden sent national basketball execs last week, urging them to bring a women’s team to Portland.

In twin letters to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Thursday, the commissioners of the National Basketball Association and Women’s National Basketball Association told the senator that Portland is under consideration for a WNBA team.

The executives offered this assurance in response to a letter Wyden sent them last week urging the leagues to bring a women’s team back to Portland.

“My colleagues and I have spent a lot of time over the past several months studying expansion and exploring potential cities that would be a good fit to add a WNBA team,” wrote WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert on Sept. 29. “While we still have more work to do, please know that Portland is a market that we hold in high regard and are actively considering.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver echoed that sentiment in a letter dated that same day: “[Portland] has a proven track record of advocating for women’s sports,” Silver wrote, “and I have no doubt that Portland is on the list of cities under consideration.”

The Portland Fire, the city’s last WNBA team, left Portland in 2002 after only three years. But in that short time, while mediocre in terms of wins and losses, the team gathered a loyal fan base at Moda Center and attracted 8,000 spectators per game.

Earlier this year, WW reported that two parties were interested in bringing back a WNBA team to Portland. One of those is tech entrepreneur and billionaire Kirk Brown, who lives in Vancouver, Wash. Brown’s endeavor appears closely tied to Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s bid to purchase the Portland Trail Blazers—which Wyden is openly urging the NBA to accelerate.