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March 11, 2021

Report: WNBA franchise could be coming to Philly

Could Philadelphia be getting its own WNBA team? One professional women's basketball player who hails from the region says that such plans are currently in the works.

During an appearance on the Girls Talk Sports TV panel Wednesday night on the social media platform Clubhouse, Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud said that a group of people from the city have been working for almost a year on bringing a franchise to Philly.

Reports of Cloud's comments during the discussion surfaced Wednesday night on social media. Khristina Williams, the founder of Girls Talk Sports TV, told NBC Sports Philadelphia that Cloud did in fact say that there have been individuals in Philly looking to bring a team to the city.

Cloud's comments Wednesday about possible WNBA expansion are not her first on the matter. In an interview with 100.3 WRNB this past Monday, Cloud said that such plans to bring a team to Philly have been in the works for a year and a half.

"It's not necessarily a secret — that's what I was told — we are trying to get a Philly team," Cloud said. "It has been in the works for a year and a half. Put a little pressure, not only on the city, but on the [WNBA], too. Our thing — for us to progress, our league needs to expand. We have to have more than 144 jobs. [...] Listen, it's in the works. I'm trying my damndest to bring a team back to Philly."

The league currently has 12 teams, with six in each conference. The youngest franchise in the WNBA is the Atlanta Dream, which entered the league in 2008. But Las Vegas is the WNBA's newest market after the San Antonio Stars relocated to Nevada in 2018 and became the Aces. 

“We always appreciate the interest in the WNBA and expansion is a longer term goal, but the league’s main focus remains on the existing 12 franchises and working together to have a thriving 25th anniversary season, and to continue to transform our business model to set up the league for a sustainable future," a league spokesperson told PhillyVoice.

The establishment of a WNBA franchise in Philadelphia would make sense for a number of reasons. The market size is appealing for the league to expand into on the East Coast, putting it in close proximity to the WNBA franchises in both New York City and Washington. 

The city also has a rich professional and college basketball history. Not to mention, any new franchise would immediately have an available arena to play at in the Wells Fargo Center.

Pair the new WNBA franchise alongside the Sixers, engage the city's passionate basketball fanbase and a professional women's basketball team seems destined to have success in Philly.

It's also fitting that the player leading the charge for a WNBA team in Philadelphia is Cloud. The 29-year-old is a Broomall, Delaware County native who starred at Cardinal O'Hara High School in Springfield.

Cloud started her collegiate career at Maryland before transferring home to play at St. Joseph's. Drafted by the Mystics in 2015, Cloud is considered one of the best defensive players in the WNBA. She was a key part in helping Washington win the 2019 WNBA championship.

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