Senator Ron Wyden sends letter of support for Portland WNBA team to national basketball officials

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent a letter Thursday to the presidents of the NBA and WNBA, urging them to bring a team from the Women’s National Basketball Association to Portland.

“A WNBA franchise in my hometown of Portland would be a resounding success for the city and the league,” Wyden wrote to NBA’s Adam Silver and WNBA’s Cathy Engelbert. “[It] would develop the sport nationally and further deepen the connection between basketball and the city.

There have long been rumors of a WNBA team returning to Portland. Earlier this year, WW reported that two were parties interested in reviving a team here in Portland. One of them is a technology founder from Vancouver, Washington named Kirk Brown.

Portland previously hosted a professional women’s team.

The Portland Fire, who left the city in 2002 after three seasons, posted lackluster results. But the team was hugely popular, regularly drawing 8,000 fans to the Memorial Coliseum for games.

The question of venues in Portland is complicated: Rip City Management, a branch of the Trail Blazers Vulcan ownership group, is currently under contract with the city to manage and operate both the Moda Center and the Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum, where a WNBA team would likely play if he returns. This means Rip City ownership controls all vendors and event planning at both venues. (The Blazers said WW earlier this spring, they would host a women’s team.)

Meanwhile, Nike founder Phil Knight has reportedly offered to buy the Blazers for $2 billion. Jody Allen, sister of late Blazers owner Paul Allen, said the team is not for sale.

Wyden nodded to Knight’s offer in his letter to Silver and Engelbert.

“Know that I stand ready to offer whatever assistance I can to protect and build a lasting commitment to the Trail Blazers’ presence in Portland – a commitment that would also be solidified with a WNBA team in my hometown.”

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