The WNBA announced its plans to start the 2020 season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., with a 22-game regular season and then a traditional playoff format.
Players and staff will head to Florida in July for training camp. Games are expected to tip off in late July without any fans in attendance.
The league continues working with medical specialists, government officials and public health experts to limit any possible spread of the coronavirus.
“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 in a 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.”
The league also announced plans to develop a social justice platform for its players to voice their opinions and drive change on all issues.
“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,” WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike said in the statement. “We have always been at the forefront of initiatives with strong support of #BlackLivesMatter, #SayHerName, the LGBTQ+ community, gun control, voting rights, #MeToo, mental health and the list goes on. This is not only necessary from a humanitarian perspective, but it may be one of the biggest opportunities that this league has and will ever have.”
ESPN, CBS Sports and NBA TV will broadcast this season's games. Last week, ESPN reported the league proposed the 22-game season and ensured players will be played 100% of their salaries.