The future of the Oakland Coliseum and Arena, a site with huge potential for housing, retail, sports, and industry, is a major issue for District 7 voters. Credit: Pete Rosos

The Oakland City Council wants to bring a Women’s National Basketball Association team to Oakland.

On Tuesday, the council approved a resolution urging the WNBA to establish a team in Oakland, noting the city already has the existing stadium infrastructure and a passionate fan base needed to foster a successful franchise. 

“Oakland is ideally suited for a WNBA team because of our fervent and rooted fanbase, existing arena space, and shared core values with the WNBA,” the resolution, which was written by at-large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, states.

A handful of other cities including San Francisco are also attempting to court a franchise. Kathy Englebert, the WNBA commissioner, confirmed in June that the league is looking to add one or two teams, potentially for the 2024 season. The WNBA has 12 teams and hasn’t expanded since the Atlanta Dream joined in 2008. 

Long before Englebert announced the league’s plans, city officials and business groups had been hard at work trying to figure out how to bring a sports team here. Oakland’s major league sports market has been decimated since the Golden State Warriors relocated to San Francisco in 2019, and the Raiders moved to Las Vegas in 2020 after years of failed attempts to build a new stadium in East Oakland. The only bright spot has been the Oakland Roots soccer club, which also recently announced plans to launch a women’s team.

In July 2021, the Oakland Coliseum Authority, Alameda County Board of Supervisors, and Oakland City Council voted unanimously to launch a WNBA team here. That following October, former WNBA superstar Alana Beard announced she was partnering with the African American Sports and Entertainment Group (AASEG) to try to bring a WNBA franchise to Oakland. 

In a letter to Englebert, AASEG said that they are in a position to not only foster a successful fan base, but will be able to provide resources for women and girls across the Bay Area. The business group cited examples of its charity such as handing out 1,000 sports bags to families and youth sports organizations at Arroyo Viejo Park, Youth Uprising, The Native American Health Center, San Antonio Park, DeFremery Park, and Raimondi field.

“Oakland is a community that values social justice, equality, and women’s rights,” Kaplan wrote in the resolution. “These principles align with those of the WNBA, and we are ready to move forward as a partner in advancing those goals as the home for a new WNBA team.” 

Joan Lohman, a vocal supporter of a WNBA franchise in Oakland, said during the council’s public comment Tuesday that Northern California has been in dire need of a women’s basketball team since the Sacramento Monarchs folded in 2009. 

“Oakland’s superb fan base deserves a team,” Lohman said. 

Ricky Rodas is a member of the 2020 graduating class of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Before joining The Oaklandside, he spent two years reporting on immigrant communities in the Bay Area as a reporter for the local news sites Oakland North, Mission Local, and Richmond Confidential. Rodas, who is Salvadoran American and bilingual, is on The Oaklandside team through a partnership with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.