Yet another sports league, this time the WNBA, could be headed to the state of Florida.
According to a report by ESPN, the league and its players union are talking about resurrecting the 2020 season with a shortened format played entirely at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., with games beginning July 24.
According to the report, the league is looking at a 22-game season — which would mean each of the 12 teams would play two games against the other 11 teams. The league had expanded its 34-game schedule to 36 games this year before the season was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The playoffs would end in October, according to ESPN. But there appears to be much to work out before any deal is finalized.
Salaries presumably would be prorated to the length of the season, meaning players would receive about 60% of their deals. But with teams losing revenue from not having fans in the stands, there remains economic uncertainty.
There are other questions as well. What will be the size of each team’s traveling party? Will families be allowed to accompany players and coaches? The housing and feeding of players is another logistic that needs to be worked out, as would be a coronavirus testing protocol for all involved.
This news comes on the heels of the NBA’s board of governors voting to restart play July 31 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando. Major League Soccer is also looking to play in Orlando this season.
Each WNBA team would likely get a short training camp to prepare for the season’s restart. This could be a significant challenge for the Lynx, who have seen a rather substantial roster turnover since finishing their second straight 18-16 season last year.
Veteran Seimone Augustus signed with Los Angeles. General Manager and coach Cheryl Reeve signed backup center Kayla Alexander to replace Temi Fagbenle, who has decided not to play in the WNBA this year. Reeve signed veteran guards Shenise Johnson and Rachel Banham, and guard/forward Cecilia Zandalasini is returning to play for the Lynx for the first time since 2018. All of these players are expected to play significant roles, with Johnson and Zandalasini vying for starting sports.
Reeve also has to integrate rookies Mikiah Herbert Harrigan and Crystal Dangerfield into the mix. All-Star guard Odyssey Sims, who gave birth to a son in early April, is on the inactive list but could return to the active roster at any time.
But the Lynx could start the season with three new starters in a situation where conventional wisdom would dictate that teams with little or no roster turnover would figure to benefit from a shortened training camp and a condensed season.