Talk of a Women’s National Basketball Association team coming to Oakland is gaining steam, so Oakland Voices correspondents asked residents what they think of a WNBA team potentially calling Oakland home. Would they support a team coming here and bring their families and friends to games? What would a rejuvenated Coliseum area look like?
The African American Sports and Entertainment Group (AASEG) has stated its desire to bring a WNBA team to Oakland, with former player Alana Beard leading the effort. In February, the city of Oakland announced a deal with the group to move forward. The project still has a long way to go. But current plans include housing, a convention center, a hotel, and education programs that would cost upwards of $5 billion.
Oakland athletes recently proved that girls and women athletes can draw a crowd and are the best in their field. The Oakland Tech girls basketball team — aka the “Lady Bulldogs”—won their third straight state championship title on Friday at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
Dr. Alexis Gray-Lawson, athletic director at Oakland Technical High School and former WNBA player
As a student-athlete, Lawson led the Oakland Tech girls basketball team to back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005. in 2004 and 2005.
“It would mean the world. Our kids are fantastic. It would be great for them to be able to feel and touch [professional basketball]. Right now, they gotta go to L.A. to see a game. To be able to dream about doing it, and to be able to dream about doing it here, it would mean the world.”
Gray-Lawson has been advocating for a WNBA team in Oakland for years, and has been speaking publicly in support of the current AASEG bid. “I’m excited to be a part of it,” she told Oakland Voices.
Erika Leon, Fruitvale resident
“My perspective on the possibility of a WNBA team coming to Oakland is, it’s an amazing idea because we need more female athlete[s] representing Oakland. Many women are gifted in the sport and want to show the world it, but there is a limit to what they can display because there is no opportunity. I support this because the athletic leagues are very representative of men and cater toward men. In comparison, women’s leagues do not receive the same representation or platform.
“My thoughts on the discussions about the negotiations is I like it, because the Coliseum and Ring Center—Oracle for the real ones—is pretty much abandoned ever since the Warriors left Oakland to San Francisco. There isn’t much activity going on in that area and I believe it would bring life back to it.”
Johnny Nguyen, East Oakland Resident
“I would love to see a WNBA team in Oakland and would take my family and friends to go see them! [I’m] in full support because it would be a great family outing to attend, inspirational for young girls and kids of the city, and would provide revenue. I think it is a great thing [to revamp the Coliseum site] and I hope they succeed!”
Aaliyah, works in East Oakland
“I think having the WNBA in Oakland would be very exciting, very fun. I would definitely love to come watch them. I live in Hayward so I’m not too far and I’d definitely come. We’re always trying to find new events to attend on days off, time off, something fun and different. [I’d be] excited to see them and see what they bring.”
Jorge Palma, East Oakland resident
“Bringing a WNBA team over to Oakland would be a good idea since it would bring attention and the possibilities of scholarships and internships [for academic scholars]. It could even give [Oaklanders] someone to look up to.
“The purchase of the Coliseum [site] can go both ways. I’d love to see it prosper and bring more to the economy in that area, but the Coliseum is history itself so it’s one of Oakland’s landmarks. Nowadays, affordable housing isn’t so ‘affordable’ for everyone, so if they could get around that and actually make it affordable, then that would be great. Seeing they want to host sports teams and events, I’m afraid that might not be the case.”
Daniel, Oakland youth
“I have no problem with women playing in the NBA. I like all basketball teams and play basketball at my neighborhood park.”
Benjamin Sr., Oakland father
“I feel it would be good for the WNBA to come to Oakland!”
Laquita, East Oakland resident
“It would be beautiful and wonderful to have the WNBA in Oakland. Women are striding for what they want to do.”