PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s not every day you see Oregon women’s basketball head coach Kelly Graves and Oregon State women’s basketball head coach Scott Rueck fist bump, but WNBA expansion is something the two parties see eye-to-eye on.
“The W to Portland is just a massive W. It just is,” said Rueck on Monday, who is a Portland native.
“I think this is a no-brainer. Portland is a great city, great people, great fans,” said Graves.
On Monday, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden brought a who’s who of Oregon sports figures together to talk to WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert about bringing a WNBA team to Rip City. Rueck and Graves were two of them, along with Blazers executives Joe Cronin and Dewayne Hankins.
“Portland is such an incredible basketball city and there’s such a void without a team here,” said Cronin, who is the Blazers’ general manager. “This group here shows the passion and the energy and how successful and how exciting this would be.”
“We would love to see the WNBA come to Portland,” said Hankins, who is the Blazers’ President of basketball operations. “We’d be right behind it to make sure that it was a success.”
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert spoke to the media after the event, saying that expansion is anywhere from two to four years out, which did not thrill league fans online.
She also said she hopes to add two teams whenever the league does expand, and that they’re currently narrowing down the list of cities down who could host an expansion team to 10 from 20.
As for if Portland is a finalist for one of those two expansion squads?
“This event tonight has been great to see the love and the fandom. What the Senator has pulled together here as far as advocates around the Portland ecosystem, I think is really important. I wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t on the list,” said Engelbert.