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WNBA plans 22-game regular season at Florida prep academy

WNBA plans 22-game regular season at Florida prep academy

The WNBA is planning a 22-game regular season in late July at IMG Academy, a preparatory boarding school and athletic training center in Bradenton, Fla.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced the plan Monday after team owners reached an agreement with the players’ association. The 2020 WNBA season was scheduled to begin May 15 before it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. A typical WNBA season includes 36 games.

No fans will be allowed to attend the games at IMG Academy. Details about the venue and time frame of the season are still being finalized. Bradenton is about 35 miles south of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The league said it will continue to work with medical specialists, public health experts and government officials to create a comprehensive set of guidelines for medical protocols and protections for game safety.

The plan calls for IMG Academy to house each of the league’s 12 teams and host training camp. The complex will also put on the WNBA playoffs.

“We are finalizing a season start plan to build on the tremendous momentum generated in the league during the off-season and have used the guiding principles of health and safety of players and essential staff to establish necessary and extensive protocols,” Engelbert said.

Players have until June 25 to tell their teams if they plan to participate. They will receive 100 percent of their 2020 salaries.

“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.

WNBA teams plan to report to IMG Academy in the coming weeks and start the regular season in late July after training camp. Games will air on ESPN, CBS Sports Network and NBA TV. Regular-season match-ups and times will be announced at a later date.

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