Larry Tanenbaum proposing bid to bring WNBA team to Toronto: report

Billionaire Larry Tanenbaum has proposed a bid to bring a WNBA franchise to the city of Toronto through his holding company, the Kilmer Group, CBC’s Shireen Ahmed reported Monday.

Tanenbaum is the minority owner and chairman of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), which owns the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Toronto FC, Argonauts and Marlies (Rogers, which owns Sportsnet, owns 37.5 per cent of MLSE).

Ahmed reported that an announcement could come as soon as May after Tanenbaum meets with WNBA leadership to discuss the bid.

When reached for comment by Sportsnet’s Michael Grange, the Kilmer Group did not confirm Shireen’s report but did say that Tanenbaum is committed to enhancing the experiences of sports fans in Toronto.

“Larry Tanenbaum has spent his career building and growing iconic sports franchises,” Courtney Glen, vice president of public affairs and communications at the Kilmer Group said in a statement obtained by Grange.

“He knows that Toronto has some of the greatest sports fans in the world. And is always looking for opportunities to champion professional sports and deliver unrivalled fan experiences in the city he loves. Kilmer will not respond to speculation or provide further comment at this time.”

In May 2023, when Toronto hosted a sold-out WNBA pre-season game, WNBA commissioner Cathy Englebert said “Toronto scored very high on the list” of cities the league is considering for expansion.

The WNBA awarded a 13th franchise to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors in October, and Englebert said the league’s “goal is to have a 14th team by 2025.”

Ahmed reported that the Coca-Cola Coliseum, where the Marlies call home, is a venue that Tanenbaum is considering if the bid is successful.

Another development that Ahmed reported is that former Raptors vice-president of basketball operations and player development Teresa Resch will be involved with the new franchise.

Resch had her last day with the Raptors on Friday, and Grange reported Sunday that Resch is expected to stay in Toronto.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported in 2022 that the Chicago Blackhawks had an interest in Resch as a GM candidate. They eventually moved interim general manager Kyle Davidson into the full-time role.

Resch was with the NBA head office for five years before joining the Raptors.

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