The Toronto Raptors can’t seem to get any sort of positive vibes generated anywhere around this franchise. Even the idea of getting a WNBA team, which seemed like the easiest slam dunk move Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment could have pulled off, has passed them up.
The WNBA recently expanded to the Bay Area, putting a team in San Francisco that will begin play in 2025. Toronto seemed like a shoo-in for a new team, given the potential to dominate the Canadian market and the passion with which Toronto has supported the Raptors.
Instead, this project has fallen by the wayside. Rumors from Doug Smith of the Toronto Star have put the blame squarely on upper management, specifically how some high-ranking members of the organization are spending more time bickering with Masai Ujiri.
According to Smith, the idea of pushing for an expansion bid has been put on the backburner because of a continuing power struggle between Ujiri and board member Edward Rogers. That’s what fans love to see! Rich people who inherited their money squashing any sort of fun and opportunity to grow the game.
Toronto Raptors ownership prevented WNBA Toronto expansion.
Friction between Rogers and Ujiri is nothing new, as there have been reports of Rodgers badmouthing and dismissing Ujiri dating back to 2021. Despite Masai’s new deal and role as an executive vice president, it appears as though the sniping is set to continue.
Smith also makes note of the fact that Toronto fans sold out a preseason game between two teams with no connection to Canada. MLSE and Scotiabank would have to give up some concert and event dates, but they could be one of the more successful teams in the WNBA if they choose this path.
Between the fact MLSE would own the stadium the team would play in, the fact the expansion fee can be spaced out over 10 years, and the high-end facilities players could use, Toronto is ideal. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert has even hyped up Toronto as a potential team, calling fans “rabid and avid.”
The Raptors could be the catalyst for something truly groundbreaking and special for the local community. Instead, like many good ideas these days, the expansion bid lies dormant beneath the feat of squabbles between some very rich men and the whims of some near-billionaires in upper management.