Basketball is back.
The WNBA and the Players’ Association on Monday announced its plan to tip off the 2020 season in July. The plan, which still is being finalized, includes an abbreviated 22-game regular season followed by the typical playoff format, with players receiving “full pay.”
All 12 teams are expected to travel down to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., which will serve as the league’s hub city for the season, in early July to begin a team training camp period. An official tip-off date for the 2020 season still is in the works.
“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,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said Monday in a press release. “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. And, 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.”
Fans will not be permitted to attend games. Players will continue to work with the WNBA on health and safety protocols and any necessary changes to the league’s return-to-play plan before and after the season begins.
“The top priority continues to be the health and safety of players and staff, and the league is working with medical specialists, public health experts, and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place,” the league said in the press release.
The WNBA originally was scheduled to kick off its regular season May 15, but had to postpone it due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The league’s original schedule featured a month-long break to allow players to compete in the now-postponed 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, giving the league a bit of wiggle room to work with.
Now, all we need is an official start date. (But hey, we’ll take what we can get for now.)