Women’s basketball stars like Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu will soon return to the hardwood. The WNBA announced Monday plans to start the 2020 season. 

The WNBPA’s executive committee approved a return-to-play plan which includes 12 teams competing in a 22-game regular season with a potential start date in late July and a traditional playoff format. 

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. 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. -- WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert 

Current plans are in place for the league to start play at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, as the official home of the 2020 WNBA season. The academy will serve as a single site for training camp, games and housing. 

Per the release, teams will report to IMG Academy in early July for training camp and regular-season action will take place in late July. The season could tip off as early as July 24, but must end by October 31, according to the league’s collective bargaining agreement.

The WNBA season will be played without fans in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the league will work with its broadcast partners to offer fans the opportunity to get a “front row seat” experience. 

In addition, the WNBA announced that it will continue to build on its commitment to social justice and will be launching a platform to support players in driving “impactful, measurable and meaningful change.” 

The league has already made donations from sales of its “Bigger Than Ball” women’s empowerment merchandise to the Equal Justice Initiative.`

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