WNBA President: League to form committee to study expansion

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) The WNBA is ready to look into expansion.

WNBA President Laurel J. Richie said in her state of the league address Saturday that an expansion committee would be formed after the season.

The league, in its 19th season, currently has 12 teams - down from the high of 16 in the early 2000s. The WNBA last added a team in 2008 when the Atlanta Dream joined.

''I always say it gets closer and closer,'' Richie said. ''We will be forming an expansion committee to look at it and make a concrete plan and strategy on how we think about it, approach it, the timing. I'm not saying expansion is absolutely on the horizon. There is no date.''

While its still way too early to tell what potential places could get teams, Richie said there was a lot of interest from different areas of the country. Last year, before the Los Angeles Sparks were bought by Magic Johnson's group, there was talk of the team moving up to the Bay Area. The WNBA President said then that there was interest from the Golden State Warriors ownership.

One place that will get a team next year is Dallas. The Tulsa Shock will move there after the season. It's the franchise's second move as they came to Oklahoma from Detroit before the 2010 season. Most of the league's previous moves have been announced in the offseason, but Richie said putting the news out this week made sense.

''The last thing we want to do is be disruptive to players, coaches and the fans,'' Richie said. ''I think it was apparent to Bill Cameron and his group that news of their discussions and ultimate decision might get out. We collectively felt it was important for the team to hear it directly from the ownership group. We were very conscious of the impact.''

Other highlights from Richie's talk before the All-Star Game, which the West won 117-112 included:

- League attendance is up four percent from last year at this point.

- Nine of the 12 teams have marquee partnerships.

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