Golden State Valkyries

San Francisco welcomes Bay Area's WNBA expansion team: the Golden State Valkyries

Crowds pack block party at Thrive City for live music and a celebration of the new WNBA team

NBC Universal, Inc.

The WNBA is coming to the Bay Area. And if Saturday was any indication, fans are ready to cheer on the Golden State Valkyries.

On Saturday, big crowds showed up at Thrive City, a gathering space outside San Francisco's Chase Center for a free block party to celebrate the team. The event offered an early glimpse at a budding fanbase.

Earlier this week, the team unveiled its name, logo, and "Valkyrie Violet" team colors. The team's name comes from Norse Mythology, valkyries were warrior women, known for being fearless. The Golden State Valkyries are the affiliate team for the Golden State Warriors and will be headquartered in Oakland and play home games at the Chase Center.

Saturday's block party featured a lineup of beloved Bay Area music artists and DJs, including performances from Goapele, Kehlani, Khyenci, Mayzin, P-Lo, and E-40. Attendees enjoyed activities like face painting, games and photo opportunities while listening to a pulsing beat of Bay Area anthems.

Valkyries Team President, Jess Smith, said that the support the team has received since announcing its brand earlier this week has been "astounding, truly."

"We’ve been working behind closed doors, giving a lot of thought to every layer of who our brand identity will be, making sure the Bay Area is at the heart of all of that," Smith explained.

"But at the end of the day, it's up to [the public] if they like it, right? And what we’ve seen is, they not only like it, they love it -- I mean merchandise is flying off the shelves," she noted.

Smith said that it has been overwhelming to see people line up around the block for an event and to buy gear for a team that was only unveiled four days prior.

The work continues for Smith and the Valkyries leadership team as they set the steps in motion to build their team.

"Our incredible general manager Ohemaa [Nyanin] is going to start getting to work here this week actually, so for her -- head coach, player strategy, player culture, team culture -- she and I are gonna work together on that," Smith said.

"Come December, you’ll see an expansion draft, January we hit free agency, and then the college draft next April," she continued.

In the meantime, Smith said the team plans to rally the Bay Area around the WNBA in general with watch parties and community events.

“This moment in time for women’s sports is culture setting, and that’s also defined by the people who are gonna be a part of how we build this," Smith said.

Vanessa Nunes traveled from Tracy to attend the block party, she is a Warriors fan and is excited to see a WNBA team in the Bay Area.

“I want bring my niece to the game, I really want to come to the games," she said.

"I love the vibe, the culture here, it's just very welcoming," Nunes continued.

Ryan Daniel, of Alameda, said she is thrilled to see the recent advances for women's professional sports in the Bay Area, first with Bay FC and now with the Valkyries.

"Obviously, it's really exciting what's going on in the WNBA right now, so it’s the perfect timing," Daniel said.

Daniel bought Valkyries gear for herself and her family while at Thrive City.

"Of course I got swag, I am wearing half of it right now," she laughed, "but I had no choice, it's so beautiful, I need all of it."

"This is ‘herstory’ in the making, and this is Bay Area history!" said Den Cortez of Oakland.

Avey Songco of Oakland said she believes the Valkyries will continue to see a large turnout.

"The Bay holds it down, and for it's teams, it will pop out and show up just like today," Songco said.

The Valkyries will begin playing games in the 2025 WNBA season. The team notes that the Valkyries have already surpassed 7,500 season ticket deposits for the team's first season.

NBC Bay Area’s Raj Mathai spoke to Zena Keita -- who covers basketball for NBC Sports and The Athletic -- about the Bay Area’s WNBA team, which now has a name.
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