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Report: MLSE pulls out of WNBA bidding

WNBA preseason game in Toronto WNBA preseason game in Toronto - Getty Images

On the day the WNBA announced the awarding of an expansion team to the Golden State Warriors ownership group to begin play in 2025 comes word that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), the ownership group behind the Raptors and Maple Leafs, are no longer pursuing a franchise.

Multiple sources tell The Toronto Star's Doug Smith that MLSE decided against bidding for a team. The move comes after the league staged a sold-out exhibition game between the Minnesota Lynx and Chicago Sky at Scotiabank Arena, another MLSE property, this past spring.

Smith notes that the expansion fee - believed to be in the neighbourhood of $50 million - and differing level of interest at the highest levels of management were among the factors in the decision. Smith also notes that without access to MLSE facilities, it would be difficult for another group to pursue a team for the city.

The group is partially owned by Bell Canada Enterprises (owners of TSN) and Rogers Communications with each of the telecommunications giants holding a 37.5 per-cent stake. Among their other holdings are Major League Soccer side Toronto FC, the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts and the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies.

The Bay Area franchise is set to become the WNBA's 13th team and first new club since the Atlanta Dream's entry into the league in 2008.