A month after the WNBA season was orignally set to begin, officials announced games will start in late July at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert laid out the plans to save the season on Monday. Engelbert says the league is in the final stages of a partnership with IMG Academy that allow for a 22-game schedule and training camps for all 12 teams.
“We are finalizing a season start plan to build on the tremendous momentum generated in the league during the offseason and have used the guiding principles of health and safety of players and essential staff to establish necessary and extensive protocols,” Engelbert said in a statement. “We will continue to consult with medical experts and public health officials as well as players, team owners and other stakeholders as we move forward with our execution plan.”
Odds to Win 2020 WNBA Championship
|Las Vegas Aces||7/2|
|Los Angeles Sparks||5/1|
|New York Liberty||40/1|
Source: Westgate SuperBook USA
As of now, players will report for a mini-camp sometime in the beginning of July at IMG Academy, and will stay at local hotels. The WNBA season should start sometime at the end of July and last for three months. The playoffs will begin in October and, as of now, all games will be played without fans in attendance.
Players Support WNBA Season Plan
The COVID-19 global pandemic has affected all sports, but Engelbert is confident she can save the WNBA season. After the league’s originally scheduled opening was suspended, she worked on a plan to make sure basketball will be played in 2020. She did shorten the season from 36 regular-season games to 22.
“Despite the disruption caused by the global pandemic to our 2020 season, the WNBA and its Board of Governors believe strongly in supporting and valuing the elite women athletes who play in the WNBA and therefore, players will receive their full pay and benefits during the 2020 season,” Engelbert said.
Los Angeles Sparks star Nneka Ogwumike, who is also president of the players association, worked with Engelbert on the WNBA season and said she is satisfied with the outcome.
“In our discussions with the league, we emphasized, and they agreed, that a strong commitment to a 2020 season will give the WNBA the chance to show the world that it’s taking the steps needed to secure our livelihood and well-being, while also providing the opportunity to amplify our collective voice,” Ogwumike told reporters.
Coach Cautions Against Overconfidence
Atlanta Dream head coach Nicki Collen is happy the WNBA season will be played, but says it will be far from ideal. She told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she is skeptical the WNBA season will come off without complications.
“Maybe I err on the side of understanding they’ve come to this conclusion with a lot of thought and a lot of perspective … what was feasible medically and to do it safely,” Collen said. “I don’t think we are going to be put in a perfect situation, I think there will be a lot of sacrifices in the bubble. I don’t think it’s going to run smoothly because we are all going into an environment where some of the things we can plan for and some of them we can’t.”