The WNBA is in active discussions with potential investors to relocate the Sacramento Monarchs to the Bay Area in time for the start of the 2010 WNBA season, league President Donna Orender announced today.  Going forward, Maloof Sports & Entertainment will no longer operate the Monarchs.

“The Bay Area has been a desirable market for the WNBA and the availability of the Monarchs provides an opportunity to move a well-known franchise and broaden its fan base within Northern California,” said Orender. “Maloof Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Monarchs, has deemed it essential to focus all of its resources on the Sacramento Kings at this time. We understand this decision was a difficult one for them and appreciate the vision, leadership, and support of the Maloof family over the past 10 years.

“The Maloofs have shown a passion for women’s basketball and seen the WNBA as great entertainment that has a positive impact on the way society views women and sports. They take great pride in the Monarchs’ players, both for their contributions on the court and in the Sacramento community.”

One of the league’s original eight teams in 1997, the Monarchs won the WNBA championship in 2005 and the Western Conference crown in 2006. Featuring former Stanford player and WNBA All-Star Nicole Powell, Olympic gold-medalist and WNBA All-Star Kara Lawson, and Piedmont, Calif. standout Courtney Paris, the team also holds the second pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft.

“We enjoyed our time with the WNBA and the Monarchs,” said co-owner Joe Maloof.  “We are extremely proud of an amazing run that included six straight playoff appearances and the 2005 WNBA Championship.  All of our resources are now dedicated to bringing the Sacramento Kings back to championship caliber form.”

Have WNBA opinions? Share them on the InsideHoops WNBA message board.