WNBA announces new expansion teams and the return of the Houston Comets

The Houston Comets are back, baby!
The Houston Comets are back, baby! / Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

The Houston Comets were the WNBA's first great dynasty. And now they're set to rejoin the league as one of the two new expansion teams.

On Monday, the WNBA announced the two new expansion franchises that will join the league for the 2031 season.

The yet-unnamed teams are set to play in Houston and Portland, two cities who’ve previously had WNBA teams. These additions follow the successful 2026 expansion that saw the league grow to 14 teams with new franchises in San Francisco and Miami.

“When the league returned to Miami, we saw immense growth that suggested reviving former teams was a strong path forward for the WNBA,” league commissioner Cathy Englebert told reporters during a conference call.

The Houston franchise will be led by a pair of former WNBA players, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke and Sheryl Swoopes. The pair were instrumental in helping the Houston Comets win the first four championships for the league.

“I wanted the future of women’s basketball in this city to be as bright as the past,” said Cooper-Dyke during a press conference on Monday morning. Cooper-Dyke has spent the past decade in Houston as the head coach for the women’s basketball program at Texas Southern, where she won four SWAC titles. She intends to remain in that role while serving in a front office role with the new WNBA franchise.

Swoopes was named as the general manager for the team. Both women also have an ownership stake in the team.

As for Portland, the new team will be under the same ownership umbrella as the city’s two soccer teams, the Portland Timbers of the MLS and Portland Thorns of the NWSL. Majority owner Merritt Paulson released a statement on Monday morning that the team intends to announce their front office and coaching staff in the coming weeks.

“This is a great day for the future of the WNBA,” Englebert told reporters. “Having a 16-team league will help us reach a larger audience than before.”

Further details about team names, home arenas, the league’s plans for an expansion draft, and changes to the WNBA’s playoff structure are expected to come in the near future, though Englebert stressed that she did not have a concrete timeline for what the next few months will look like for the league.

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