Basketball fans from Chatham-Kent will fill Scotiabank Arena in Toronto this Saturday, May 13.
They'll be there to cheer on Chatham's Bridget Carleton as her team, the Minnesota Lynx, makes history by playing the Chicago Sky in the first WNBA game to be played in Canada.
"I think the whole city of Chatham is going," Carleton joked during media day on Wednesday, May 10. "My parents texted me today and said they're trying to rent out a space for us to gather after the game for about 100 people, and that's like friends and family."
The 25-year-old is the lone Canadian playing in the preseason game, scheduled for 4 p.m. on TSN. It will be played in front of 22,000 fans after selling out in 10 minutes.
Carleton said she is very excited for the game.
"It's going to be, probably overwhelming, and I'm just preparing myself for that. Just to see so many familiar faces in the crowd, so many coaches that have been a part of my career so far growing up. It's going to be pretty surreal just to see them all," she said.
This is Carleton's fifth WNBA season and appears poised to have a breakout year. She led Canada to the semifinals of the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup last September. Carleton was named to the tournament all-star team and led Canada in scoring. She is just back from playing overseas in Spain.
The game could be a test for Toronto as the WNBA has been looking at expanding the league, and the city is one possibility.
"Bringing a WNBA preseason game to Canada is an important milestone for the global growth of the league," said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. "And as Canadian stars like Bridget Carleton, Natalie Achonwa and Kia Nurse continue to flourish in and drive interest around the league, we’re looking forward building on the momentum and excitement surrounding the WNBA in Canada with this historic game."
Carleton will be busy on Friday, May 12. She'll throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Toronto Blue Jays game against the Atlanta Braves at Rogers Centre.