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WNBA returning to Canada for pre-season game in Edmonton – news today

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The WNBA will be returning to Canada for another pre-season game this spring when the Los Angeles Sparks take on the Seattle Storm on May 5 at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

The game will feature Canadian national team star Kia Nurse, who was traded to the Sparks from the Storm in January.

“We wanted to bring the WNBA back to Canada, and Edmonton felt like the perfect place to move west this year,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. “A hugely passionate sports city, Edmonton has been home to the Canadian senior women’s national team for a decade, and we know basketball is a passion in Canada. We know we have five-plus million WNBA fans here in Canada.”

Other players coming to Canada for the game include last year’s scoring leader, Jewell Loyd, and eight-time All-Star Nneka Ogwumike of the Storm, as well as All-Star Layshia Clarendon and former Sixth Player of the Year Dearica Hamby of the Sparks.

The game in Edmonton will be the second WNBA pre-season game played in Canada. Last May, the Chicago Sky defeated the Minnesota Lynx 82-74 in front of a sold-out Scotiabank Arena crowd in Toronto, with Canadian national team member Bridget Carleton featuring for the Lynx.

The WNBA has also previously played international games in Manchester, England (2011), and Monterrey, Mexico (2004).

“Last year, we were thrilled with the way Canada, and Toronto specifically, but I would say the country responded to having our first-ever game there,” Engelbert said. “Globalizing the game is an important part of our strategy, and given that Canada is our neighbour to the north here in the U.S., I think the success of that game was amazing.”

Toronto has recently been back in the WNBA conversation after Shireen Ahmed of CBC Sports reported that executive Larry Tanenbaum is pursuing an expansion team.

Tanenbaum, a minority owner and chairman of MLSE, is seeking the team through his holding company, the Kilmer Group.

The WNBA awarded its 13th franchise to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors for a reported $50 million in October.

“From an expansion perspective, what we’re looking for in any city or market we’re talking to is a committed ownership group with a great arena situation, practice facility, player experience,” Engelbert said. “You know, I’m a data person, and I look at a lot of data about the market and kind of our typical WNBA fan, but how can we grow that fan base and other fan segments?

“Certainly, Toronto did great on that last year.”



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