The push to attract a WNBA team to Oakland is getting some major star power.
Alana Beard, WNBA All Star, who won a championship with the Los Angeles Sparks, is teaming up with an African-American ownership group to bring a pro women’s basketball team to the Oakland Arena.
“I absolutely believe there is a market,” said Beard, who may have retired from the court after playing in the WNBA for 14 years, but she’s now jumping into the world of sports business.
“We’ve done a deep dive in the market research and understand that there is no better place in this moment in time to have a WNBA team in this market.”
She is spearheading the effort to bring a women’s professional basketball team to Oakland. The WNBA legend is partnering up with the African American Sports and Entertainment group, who want to create a new franchise, right where the Warriors used to play.
“We are ready, we have the venue, we have the community, we have the support,” said Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember.
That support is coming from the Oakland City Council and the Joint Powers Authority Commission, which agreed to a term sheet with the black-owned sports & entertainment group to purchase or lease 50% of the Oakland Coliseum Complex.
“We’ve been dying to have this, its long overdue, and I think this team will be extremely successful,” said Charmin Smith, Head Coach of CAL Women’s Basketball.
She said there’s always been a hunger for a professional women’s sports in the Bay Area.
“I remember driving to Sacramento to watch the Monarchs play and I know a lot of Bay Area fans who were making that drive as well,” said Smith.
Beard said the goal is to revitalize East Oakland and inspire young Bay Area athletes along the way. We reached out to the league for an interview and they declined.
“I’m really excited for our young women also to be in close proximity to some of the best basketball players in the world,” said Smith.
Beard said that, “At the end of the day, it’s gonna be up to the league and the current owners of the league to decide if Oakland is a viable market for a WNBA team.”
Some of the potential team names being thrown around are the Oakland Crusaders or the Oakland Amazons.
Nothing is set in stone yet
Beard says she anticipates hearing the league’s final decision on whether Oakland gets a franchise by next summer.