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WNBA plans to play 2020 season at IMG Academy in Bradenton

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FILE – In this Sept. 29, 2019, file photo, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert speaks at a news conference before Game 1 of basketball’s WNBA Finals between the Connecticut Sun and the Washington Mystics, in Washington. The WNBA has announced plans to play a reduced season, with a 22-game schedule that would begin in late July without fans in attendance. “There’s a lot to do between now and the tip of the season, now that we’ve selected IMG Academy” as the location to play, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a phone interview Monday, June 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA/AP) – The WNBA has annoucned they will kick off a 22-regular season at IMG Academy in Bradenton.

The league says that the season would start in July and would serve as a single site for training camp, games and housing for all 12 teams.

“There’s a lot to do between now and the tip of the season, now that we’ve selected IMG Academy” as the location to play, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a phone interview Monday. “My hope is the July 24 date will stick. We have scenarios and plans to lift and shift the tip of the season. It could slip to a couple of days later. We want to have the appropriate number of days for training camp.”

“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,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.  “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 IMG facility has four courts, but the WNBA is still exploring options to play games at other sites in the area that might be better for broadcasts.

The WNBA would use its regular playoff format, with the top eight teams making the postseason and the first two rounds being single-elimination. The top two seeds would have byes until the semifinals. The playoffs would begin in the middle of September and end in early October.

Players would receive their entire salaries for the year despite playing a schedule that’s only about two-thirds the length of the 36-game one that was supposed to start May 15.

The commissioner said players who are considered high-risk for the new coronavirus could opt out of playing this season and still earn their full salaries.

Players with children will be able to bring a caregiver with them.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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