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Nurse, Sparks to face Storm in WNBA preseason game in Edmonton

Canada Australia Kia Nurse Ezi Magbegor - The Canadian Press

The WNBA announced Thursday that the league will host a preseason game in Canada on Sunday, May 5 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, featuring the Los Angeles Sparks and Seattle Storm.

This is the second preseason WNBA game to be played in Canada after the league hosted a game last year in Toronto between the Chicago Sky and Minnesota Lynx. It was a sold-out crowd of 19,923 at Scotiabank Arena, making it the highest-attended as well as the most-watched WNBA preseason game ever.

The Sparks boast Canadian star Kia Nurse, who hails from Hamilton, Ont. Nurse was acquired by the Sparks on Jan. 31 from the Storm along with the 2024 fourth-overall pick. Nurse averaged 5.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in 40 games last season with Seattle.

Nurse will be the second Canadian WNBA player to play a game on home soil. In last year’s game in Toronto, Minnesota Lynx’s Bridget Carleton, who hails from Chatham, Ont., made history as the first to accomplish the feat.

“One of Canada’s greatest basketball players, Sparks guard Kia Nurse, is returning to play in front of her Canadian fans as my Los Angeles Sparks take on the Seattle Storm in this year’s WNBA Canada Game presented by Tangerine,” said Sparks co-owner Magic Johnson in a release. “Showcasing some of the league’s top talent in Canada is a great opportunity to continue building dedicated WNBA fans outside of the U.S. Last year’s game was a sellout and I expect nothing less for the Sparks versus Storm.”

The Storm had a big off-season, adding 2016 WNBA MVP Nneka Ogwumike and six-time All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith in free agency, joining two-time champion and 2023 scoring leader Jewell Loyd.

“Last year we were thrilled with the way Canada [and] Toronto specifically, I would say the country responded to having our first-ever game there,” said WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert in a media call. “Globalizing the game is part of our strategy and given that Canada is our neighbour to the north here in the U.S., I think the success of that game was amazing.”

The WNBA has also previously held exhibition games in Manchester, England (2011) and Monterrey, Mexico (2004).

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to be a part of the WNBA Canada Game presented by Tangerine and showcase the incredible talent in the WNBA in Edmonton,” said Seattle Storm head coach Noelle Quinn.

“I’ve been honored to work with the Canadian senior women’s national team and witness firsthand how Canada continues to be out front when it comes to advocating for women and investing in women’s sports. This game represents the growth of women’s basketball both in Canada and on a global stage.”