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The WNBA plans to play a 22-game regular season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, the league announced on Monday.
The league said in a statement it is finalizing details with IMG Academy to serve as a single site for housing, training camps and games — including a traditional playoff format — and the league said players will receive full pay and benefits for the 2020 season while playing 12 fewer regular-season games.
“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 statement. “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.”
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Teams and players plan to report IMG Academy in early July with regular-season games starting in late July – a similar timetable to the NBA’s restart plan at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida.
The league said it will “include a devoted platform led by the players that will aim to support and strengthen both the league and teams’ reach and impact on social justice matters.”
Said Women’s National Basketball Players Association president and Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike: “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.
“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.”
IMG Academy is a multi-purpose sports and education institute that has grown over the years to train not only amateurs, but professionals as well.
The campus has multiple basketball courts to facilitate practices and games.