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Thousands of fans welcome WNBA’s newest team at Golden State Valkyries block party

A woman gestures a peace sign, wearing sunglasses and a purple balloon hat at an outdoor event named "Golden State Valkyries" near the Chase building.
Karla Moornez wore a purple-and-white balloon hat in honor of the Golden State Valkyries, which fans celebrated at a block party outside the Chase Center Saturday. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez for The Standard

Thousands of fans packed a star-studded block party outside the Chase Center in San Francisco on Saturday to celebrate the launch of the WNBA’s newest team, the Golden State Valkyries. 

The gathering capped off months of anticipation since last fall, when the WNBA announced it would bring an expansion team to the Bay Area. And it came just days after the team revealed its name, colors and logo to the public. 

A man in a leather jacket and flat cap performs on a stage, extending a microphone towards the audience, with skyscrapers in the background.
E-40 was one of the performers at the event, which also featured Goapele, Kehlani, Khyenci, Mayzin and P-Lo.  | Source: Estefany Gonzalez for The Standard

The Valkyries name was chosen to symbolize the power of the fearless women warriors called valkyries in Norse mythology, the team explained

Violet and black colors highlight a V-shaped logo with the Bay Bridge in the center to show the team’s connection to Oakland, where they practice, and the Chase Center, where home games will be played. 

Three people are joyfully taking a selfie outdoors; one man makes a peace sign, the woman smiles widely. A bystander observes, set against an urban backdrop.
P-Lo takes a selfie with a fan at the Valkyries launch party. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez for The Standard

The Valkyries are the first WNBA expansion team since 2008 and the 13th in the league.

Karla Moornez, 38, a former junior college basketball player from Oakland, said she made the trek to the block party with her wife to celebrate their anniversary.

A diverse crowd gathers under a sunny sky at Thrive City, with a modern building in the background. Some individuals are attentive, others converse or eat.
Thousands of fans showed up to party with the Bay Area's new WNBA team. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez for The Standard

“To have a women’s team, I think that’s really awesome,” Moornez said. “Especially with a new generation that seems to be more engaged with women’s basketball.”

The block party included performances and appearances from well-known artists with ties to the Bay. E-40, Goapele, Kehlani, Khyenci, Mayzin and P-Lo drew excited screams and a sea of hands holding up cellphones to take videos from the crowd.

Two women and a child, smiling and together outdoors, surrounded by others in a bright, lively setting. One woman wears sunglasses; the other, a baseball cap.
Chris Mahaney, left, daughter Grae Mahaney, 14 months old, and her partner, Anne Mahaney, pose for a portrait at Thrive City in front of Chase Center. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez for The Standard

Children at the event colored Valkyries posters, jumped in a bounce castle, donned balloon hats in the team colors and got their faces painted.

Other attendees jumped at the chance to purchase Valkyries merchandise in person for the first time.

Moornez bought shirts and hoodies, which she immediately put on to show team spirit at the party.

A woman is performing on stage in a city, holding a microphone and wearing a blue blazer, with an audience capturing the moment on their phones.
Goapele was one of several artists with Bay Area ties to take the stage. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez for The Standard

The event was moderated by Zena Keita, a reporter for NBC Sports Bay Area, and fans got the chance to hear from Valkyries President Jess Smith, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao. 

“It was really important to us that we kept the Bay at the heart of every decision we made of who we are as the Valkyries,” Smith said, “because it’s going to take every single one of us at every single game to make this thing fly.”

A woman in a sports jacket interacts with children in a crowded event, smiling as she looks at a phone held by a young girl.
Kehlani rocked a Valkyries jacket while taking photos with fans. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez for The Standard

The Valkyries will begin playing games at the start of the 2025 WNBA season at Chase Center. Over 10,500 season ticket deposits have already been purchased. 

Moornez bought hers for the season and said she’s excited to attend because so many other professional teams have left the region.

The Valkyries are an affiliate of the NBA Golden State Warriors, both of which are owned by billionaire businessman Joe Lacob.

A diverse group of people enjoying a public event, raising their hands, smiling, and holding drinks, expressing excitement and happiness.
People dance during E-40’s set at Thrive City. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez for The Standard

Correction: This story was updated with the proper spelling of Oakland resident Karla Moornez.