Senator Wyden pleads for WNBA return to Portland, OR

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — If professional women’s basketball returned to Rose City, would it be a success? Senator Ron Wyden thinks so.

On Thursday, Wyden sent a letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver and WNBA commissioner Cathy Englebert, pleading for a WNBA team to come to Portland.

“A WNBA franchise in my hometown of Portland would be a resounding success for the city and the league,” Wyden said in the letter.

Wyden cited the passion surrounding the Portland Thorns and the recent success of the Oregon and Oregon State women’s basketball teams as reasons why the WNBA would be successful in Portland. He also said providing a built-in rival to the Seattle Storm, one of the best organizations in WNBA history, would be an advantage for the league.

“Portland, and our entire state of Oregon, has proven to be a hotbed for women’s sports,” Wyden said.

It’s been 20 years since Portland has had a WNBA team. The Portland Fire played at the Moda Center, formerly known as the Rose Garden, from 2000 to 2002. Despite unsuccessful teams, the Fire averaged more than 8,000 fans per contest, and Wyden believes sports fans in Portland could duplicate those numbers if given the chance.

“An expansion of the WNBA franchise to Portland would grow the sport nationally and further deepen the connection between basketball and the city,” he said.

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