The WNBA will pay for flights for postseasons and back-to-backs. Expansion to 16 teams possible by 2028

NEW YORK (AP) — The WNBA will once again pay for charter flights for the entire playoffs as well as back-to-back games in the upcoming season that require air travel, Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said Monday.

There are more back-to-back sets this season, with the WNBA taking a long break for the Olympics in late July and early August. The league spent $4 million on charters in 2023 and will do the same this year.

“No one wants (charters) more than me for these players. We have to be in the right financial situation,” Engelbert said before the WNBA draft Monday night. “Only a few years ago we were surviving, now we are moving from survival to thriving. We want to do it at the right time.

Engelbert also said she hopes to have 16 teams in the league by 2028, up from 12 currently. The WNBA will add a team next year, when a franchise from Golden State to San Francisco joins the league. Other cities or metropolitan areas that Engelbert says are in the running include Philadelphia; Toronto; Portland, Oregon; Denver; Nashville; and South Florida.

“Our plan and our goal is to get to 16 teams over the next few years,” she said.

Engelbert said she received calls last week from two other cities the league hadn’t spoken with.

Golden State will have a chance to build its roster through an expansion draft.

“This will happen before the college draft and we will share more details when we get closer,” Engelbert said. “Talking to general managers, coaches, teams and owners, there will be an expansion draft this year and it will probably be in December.”

Engelbert knows this year’s draft has more household names like Caitlin Clark, who helped the NCAA reach its best audience in women’s basketball history, with nearly 19 million fans watching the title game . Other well-known players being drafted include Angel Reese, Kamilla Cardoso and Cameron Brink.

The commissioner noted that the WNBA purchased ads that aired during NCAA tournament broadcasts, starting with the Sweet 16.

“I’m excited that we have some household names,” Engelbert said. “We need to market around that.”



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