WNBA, players agree to shortened 2020 season with full pay

After months of deliberation, the WNBA has decided to go forward with hosting a 2020 season.

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WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert would not confirm that IMG Academy and MGM Resorts are the finalists to host the 2020 season. “We’re looking at the pros and cons of a number of different locations,” Engelbert said. 

Patrick Semansky/AP

After months of deliberation, the WNBA and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association have decided to go forward with a 2020 season.

The WNBPA’s executive committee gave the green light this week to launch the season in late July, approving a 22-game regular-season schedule with players receiving full pay and benefits.

Under the current plan, which was officially announced Monday, training camps and the season will take place at the IMG Academy campus in Bradenton, Florida, without fans. The shortened regular season will be followed by a traditional playoff format.

A formal start date hasn’t been finalized, but the season must end by Oct. 31, according to the collective-bargaining agreement.

The players voted to go forward with the plan over the weekend even though some aspects — such as housing accommodations and safety procedures — are still being negotiated.

“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 the health and safety of players and essential staff to establish necessary and extensive protocols,” commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.

Players will have the option to sit out this season. Sky forward Jantel Lavender was hesitant about the WNBA going through with a season, saying last month that she thought “it would make more sense to wait it out and just see where we go from here.”

Lavender, however, said she’s “most definitely” concerned about the financial strain the pandemic has had on teams and the league, which lost a reported $12 million in 2018, and could see that as being a reason to have a season.

Sky owner Michael Alter figures the team will lose an estimated 40% of its overall revenue without ticket sales this season.

How the WNBA will make up for lost revenue remains unclear. For now, the league will rely on its “WNBA Changemakers” corporate partnerships and TV deals for financial support.

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