PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — If professional women’s basketball returned to Rose City, would it be successful? Sen. Ron Wyden sure thinks so.
On Thursday, Wyden sent a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and WNBA Commissioner Cathy Englebert, advocating for a WNBA team to come to Portland.
“A WNBA franchise in my hometown of Portland would be a slam dunk success for the city and the league,” Wyden said in the letter.
Wyden cited the passion surrounding the Portland Thorns and the recent success of the Oregon and Oregon State women’s basketball teams as reasons the WNBA would succeed in Portland. He also said that providing a built-in rival for the Seattle Storm, one of the top organizations in WNBA history, would be a benefit for the league.
“Portland, and our entire state of Oregon, has proved to be a hotbed for women’s sports,” Wyden said.
It’s been 20 years since Portland has had a WNBA team. The Portland Fire played at Moda Center, formerly known as the Rose Garden, from 2000-02. Despite unsuccessful teams, the Fire averaged more than 8,000 fans per contest, and Wyden believes that Portland sports fans could duplicate those numbers if given the opportunity.
“An expansion WNBA franchise in Portland would grow the sport nationally and further deepen the connection between basketball and the city,” he said.