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Jess Smith to lead new Golden State WNBA franchise as team president

The Golden State Warriors expansion WNBA franchise has its first hire with Jess Smith as team president.

Smith comes to the team from Angel City Football Club and will overseas all of the business operations for the franchise which begins play in 2025.

“Jess is a proven leader and the perfect fit to guide our WNBA team as we begin this exciting new endeavor,” Warriors president and chief operating officer Brandon Schneider said. “She brings a strategic and innovative business approach, in addition to an impressive track record for exceeding financial and overall goals. Those intangibles will benefit us greatly as we aim to build a world class franchise that will establish strong and impactful business initiatives off the court, and compete for championships on it.”

Smith, who will start officially on Feb. 14, was with Angel City from the team's inception in 2020 serving as the head of revenue. She knows how difficult it can be to build a team from scratch, but feels that the new WNBA franchise is in a really good spot with so many key infrastructure pieces already in place.

“We're going to play at Chase Center, we have a practice facility in Oakland that is going to be dedicated to this team and have the offices for me and my staff to build a culture around," she said. "It seems so simple, but building infrastructure can be incredibly difficult. ... That's a huge step forward. I can work on the brand, the connection, the community, the partners.”

Schneider added that the Warriors and the yet-to-be-named team will have some shared resources like finance and legal — a common thing when there is shared ownership between an NBA and WNBA franchise.

Smith knows the Bay Area is a hotbed for basketball between the Warriors and the great women's college basketball played at Stanford and Cal. The team has already secured more than 4,000 season ticket deposits.

“Right now is an incredible time to capitalize on that and add to the ecosystem that already exists,” she said.

Smith said there is no immediate timetable to hire a general manager and coach, saying it has to be the “right time and the right person to begin to build that culture. ... Sometimes it takes one week and sometimes it'll take four months.”

There is no shortage of candidates as Schneider said that there was big interest when the franchise was first announced in October.

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WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball