The WNBA has proposed starting its delayed regular season in a single Florida location, similar to the plan the NBA unveiled Thursday, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions. The league postponed the start of training camps and the regular season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The WNBA plan calls for a 22-game season to be held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the proposal remains unofficial.
The WNBA declined to comment through a spokesperson, and WNBA players association executive director Terri Jackson did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
The proposal, which was first reported by ESPN, includes a start date of July 24 with the playoffs in October. A shortened training camp likely would take place in early July. The league’s original schedule allowed room for some accommodation because it had included a break from late July to early August to allow players to participate in the Tokyo Olympics, which have since been postponed until 2021 because of the pandemic.
The regular season had been scheduled to open May 15 and include 36 games per team. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert has said games likely will be played without fans, at least initially.
The IMG facilities include four basketball courts and a Performance & Sports Science Center.
The NBA plans a bubblelike environment at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World and contact with those outside that environment would be limited. The WNBA probably would take similar measures in an attempt to take all safety precautions at its site about 100 miles away.
The league would have decisions to make on essential and nonessential personnel, how to test initially and consistently and what family and/or friends would be allowed on site. Leagues also need a plan if a player, coach or staff tests positive after the season begins.
“The health and safety of our players and staff are No. 1,” Engelbert said earlier. “So, we have a set of principles and that’s No. 1. . . . There are a lot of significant medical protocol and operational and logistical elements to put on a season. . . . Lots of logistics, lots of medical protocols. Obviously, we’re leveraging a lot of [other leagues] as they talk about their plans and look at their playbooks and certainly the NBA process as well.”