Tired of waiting for the WNBA to announce its expansion plans? Us too. So, Boardroom guided ChatGPT through a complete expansion exercise, starting with selecting home cities.
There’s no hotter topic off the court in the WNBA than the league’s potential for expansion. That’s been the case for the past few years, actually, as Cathy Engelbert and her staff continue dragging their feet.
But Boardroom combed through the league’s CBA and made extra certain there was no rule against a few enterprising sports and tech writers using ChatGPT to add a pair of teams to the league themselves. So, that’s what we did.
In the first of a multi-part series, Boardroom’s Michelai Graham guides ChatGPT through an exercise to select two expansion cities. Our AI companion analyzed a variety of factors, including market size and potential, enthusiasm for women’s sports, and geographic location.
NOTE: Some of the cities ChatGPT lists are popular in WNBA expansion speculation discussions. Some are not. Some cities that make logical sense aren’t even included at all. Blame the bot if you happen to have complaints.
Graham’s conversation with ChatGPT is below, complete with her own commentary and the final cities that ChatGPT chose.
MICHELAI GRAHAM: Based on what you know about the 12 WNBA franchises, can you rank the top 10 best cities for WNBA expansion teams?
- Vancouver, Canada: Vancouver has been mentioned as a potential city for WNBA expansion, bringing the league to Canada.
- Louisville, Kentucky: Known for its strong basketball culture, Louisville has been considered as a potential expansion city due to its enthusiasm for the sport.
- Nashville, Tennessee: Nashville has a growing sports scene and has been considered as a potential city for WNBA expansion due to its market size and interest in women’s basketball.
- Kansas City, Missouri: The city has a rich basketball tradition and could be a suitable location for a future WNBA team.
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh has a history of supporting women’s sports and could be a viable option for WNBA expansion.
- Baltimore, Maryland: Baltimore has a strong basketball following and could be a contender for a future WNBA team.
- Cincinnati, Ohio: Cincinnati has a passionate sports fan base and could be an attractive market for WNBA expansion.
- St. Louis, Missouri: St. Louis has shown interest in hosting a WNBA team, and its central location and sports culture could make it a compelling option.
- Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina: The Raleigh-Durham area has a strong basketball presence and could be a potential market for WNBA expansion.
- Austin, Texas: Austin has a growing sports market and a supportive community that could make it a viable option for a WNBA expansion team.
ChatGPT told me that this list is “based on discussions and speculation up until September 2021,” which includes WNBA data up until that date. Also, the platform isn’t perfect, and it proved that early on. I had to repeat my first question a few times because it included Seattle, Las Vegas, and Indianapolis on the list; those cities obviously already have WNBA franchises.
Moving along, this next question bumped the list down to five potential expansion cities.
MG: Of the top 10 cities that you named, which ones have the best market potential for a WNBA expansion team?
CHATGPT: Among the top 10 cities mentioned previously, some cities that could be seen as having strong market potential for a WNBA expansion team include:
- Vancouver, Canada: Expanding the WNBA to Canada would open up a new market and potentially tap into a passionate basketball fan base. Vancouver’s metropolitan area has a significant population and a history of supporting sports teams.
- Nashville, Tennessee: Nashville has a growing sports scene and a sizable population. The city’s sports culture and potential fan interest make it an attractive market for WNBA expansion.
- Louisville, Kentucky: With a strong basketball culture and a history of supporting women’s sports, Louisville could offer market potential for a WNBA expansion team. The city’s enthusiasm for basketball could translate into fan support for a women’s professional basketball team.
- Kansas City, Missouri: Kansas City has a rich basketball tradition, including successful college basketball programs. The city’s sports culture and fan base could provide a solid foundation for a WNBA team.
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh has a history of supporting women’s sports, including the Pittsburgh Passion of the Women’s Football Alliance. The city’s sports culture and potential fan base could make it a viable option for a WNBA expansion team.
It’s important to note that market potential can fluctuate based on a variety of factors, and the ultimate success of a WNBA expansion team would depend on multiple considerations, including marketing strategies, community engagement, and team performance. Any decisions regarding WNBA expansion would involve careful analysis of market potential and other relevant factors at the time of expansion.
While ChatGPT doesn’t have access to real-time data, the AI platform provided general considerations for factors such as population demographics, sports culture, fan interest, corporate support, and arena availability to answer the above question.
Before asking the next question, I confirmed that ChatGPT knew the names and locations of the 12 WNBA franchises.
MG: Knowing where all 12 WNBA teams are located, which cities out of the five you mentioned for WNBA expansion make the most sense geographically?
CHATGPT: Considering the geographical proximity to the existing 12 WNBA teams, the following cities from the previous five mentioned for WNBA expansion teams make the most sense:
- Vancouver, Canada: Vancouver is located on the west coast of Canada, making it geographically closer to the Seattle Storm, located in Seattle, Washington. The proximity to Seattle could potentially facilitate regional rivalries and reduced travel distances for teams in the Pacific Northwest.
- Nashville, Tennessee: Nashville is situated in the central United States, which allows for reasonable travel distances to several existing WNBA teams. It could establish regional rivalries with teams such as the Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky, Indiana Fever, and the Dallas Wings.
- Louisville, Kentucky: Louisville is located in the central United States, similar to Nashville. It could also establish regional rivalries with teams such as the Chicago Sky, Indiana Fever, and the Atlanta Dream. Additionally, it is relatively close to Cincinnati, which could foster a potential regional rivalry.
- Kansas City, Missouri: Kansas City is situated in the central United States, making it geographically close to the Minnesota Lynx, the Chicago Sky, and the Dallas Wings. It could establish regional rivalries with these teams, among others.
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh is located in the northeastern United States and could establish regional rivalries with teams such as the New York Liberty, the Washington Mystics, and the Connecticut Sun. While it is not as centrally located as some of the other cities, it could still offer viable geographical considerations.
At this point, it was time to narrow the list further, so I just went for it after gauging ChatGPT’s insight on other factors such as financial viability and appetite for women’s sports.
MG: Based on all of the criteria I’ve given you thus far, can you narrow this list to three?
CHATGPT: Certainly! Based on the criteria discussed, including market potential, financial viability, appetite for women’s sports, and geographical considerations, here are three cities that emerge as strong candidates for WNBA expansion:
- Vancouver, Canada: Vancouver presents an opportunity to expand the WNBA into Canada, tapping into a potentially passionate basketball fan base. It offers a strong market potential, geographical proximity to the Seattle Storm, and the potential for regional rivalries with teams in the Pacific Northwest.
- Nashville, Tennessee: Nashville has a growing sports scene, a diverse economy, and a supportive community. It has shown an appetite for women’s sports and could foster regional rivalries with existing teams in the central and southeastern parts of the United States.
- Louisville, Kentucky: Louisville has a strong basketball culture, a history of supporting women’s sports, and a central location. It offers market potential, potential regional rivalries, and a passionate fan base.
These three cities demonstrate a combination of factors that make them strong contenders for WNBA expansion, including market size, geographical considerations, fan support, and the potential for corporate partnerships. However, it’s important to note that the final decision on WNBA expansion would involve in-depth analysis and considerations beyond the scope of this discussion.
Vancouver and Nashville were ChatGPT’s two picks for expansion cities, but why stop there? Let’s determine the very best.
MG: Based on all of the criteria we’ve given you thus far, can you narrow this list to the best one?
CHATGPT: Based on the criteria discussed, including market potential, financial viability, appetite for women’s sports, geographical considerations, and narrowing down from the previous two options, the best city for WNBA expansion would be:
- Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville stands out as the top choice based on its combination of factors. It has a growing sports scene, a diverse economy, and a supportive community. Nashville has shown an appetite for women’s sports, with successful women’s collegiate programs and events. It offers regional rivalries with existing teams in the central and southeastern parts of the United States. The city’s market potential, financial viability, and sports culture make it a strong candidate for WNBA expansion.
While Vancouver, Canada, also presents significant opportunities for expansion, including entering the Canadian market and potential regional rivalries, Nashville’s overall package of market potential, fan support, financial viability, and geographic considerations make it the best choice from the options discussed.
Please note that this decision is based on the given criteria and analysis up until my knowledge cutoff in September 2021. The final decision regarding WNBA expansion would depend on various factors, including future market conditions, ownership groups, and other considerations at the time of expansion.
Stay tuned for Part 2, where ChatGPT helps select team names and mascots for Vancouver and Nashville franchises.
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