The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the WNBA plans to hold its season in a single location, provided the league plays at all in 2020.
According to the report, the MGM Resorts in Las Vegas and the IMG Academy in Florida are the leading contenders to host the WNBA.
Engelbert Sees Opportunities for WNBA
The WNBA has yet to announce any official proposals for the 2020 season, however, commissioner Cathy Engelbert previously said the league is considering scenarios in which all teams will play in just one or two locations.
“We’re looking at the pros and cons of a number of different locations,” Engelbert told the AP on Tuesday, without confirming what sites were in consideration.
The WNBA planned to begin its season on May 15, but postponed its start due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Any plan will require discussions with the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA). Unlike MLB or some other leagues, pay doesn’t appear to be a major sticking point. Currently, the league plans to pay its players their salaries over the course of 12 pay periods.
The WNBA has yet to publicly discuss what a 2020 season might look like. The league’s most recent collective bargaining agreement expanded the regular season from 34 to 36 games, but it’s unclear how many games can be played this year. Engelbert says she sees extensive value in holding a WNBA season.
“We do find ourselves in a moment of challenge for the country, for the world, but we also are looking at the different kinds of opportunities that could present to elevate more people watching,” Engelbert said last month, via Fansided.com. “So I think it’s really important that we not just look at all the challenge – and believe me, I recognize all the challenge – but look at the opportunity, too.”
Rookies Getting Few Chances in 2020
If the WNBA is truly considering just two sites to host the 2020 season, there are reasons to think that the IMG Academy could have an advantage. The Las Vegas Aces come into 2020 as a championship contender, and while the league wouldn’t make everyone play at Mandalay Bay – where the Aces play their home games – the team might have a significant home-court advantage anywhere in the city. Meanwhile, the IMG Academy is located in Bradenton, Florida, and would be just 100 miles away from Orlando, where the NBA is looking at restarting its season.
The coronavirus pandemic has created a difficult situation for many WNBA players, especially rookies who were looking to make rosters coming out of college, but who didn’t get to prove themselves in training camp. As of last week’s deadline, only about half of the 36 draft picks had found roster spots, with some choosing to purposely sit out a year to develop and try to make a team in 2021.
“They got their NCAA Tournament taken away, then they don’t get to have the in-person draft, and now they don’t even get to step foot in training camp,” ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo told The Hartford Courant. “I just really feel for this class.”