NEW YORK (AP) - The WNBA will play a 32-game schedule that includes mini-two-game series in the same city to reduce travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, the league said Tuesday.
The season kicks off on Friday, May 14th in New York, home of Indiana - one of four games that evening. Seattle will receive its rings for winning the WNBA title last season when the storm hosts the Las Vegas Aces in a final rematch the next day.
The regular season ends on September 19th and is followed by the traditional playoff format. The league will be on hiatus for the Tokyo Olympics from July 15 to August 11.
The WNBA played a 22-game schedule in a bubble in the IMG Academy last season.The league played a 34-game schedule in 2019, and most recently a 32-game schedule.
The new series format of two games in the same city is similar to a model used by the NBA this season.
“It’s a really smart league move for a number of reasons, including minimizing the amount of travel to help with COVID log procedures and precautions,” said Curt Miller, Connecticut coach. “The unintended consequence is that it’s a great prep for a playoff series and a prep for a team on consecutive days.”
Other highlights of the schedule include Candace Parker and the Chicago Sky, which hosts her former team, the Los Angeles Sparks, for a weekend series May 28-30.Parker and Heaven visit Los Angeles a week later, June 5th.
This year the teams are back home and it is up to each organization in collaboration with the league and the federal government. State and local health authorities set safety protocols for fans' participation in games. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said that nine of the 12 teams are now allowed to have fans, while a tenth is still in negotiations.
“We are working with the players' association to develop a plan for the safe conduct of our season during the pandemic,” said Engelbert. “We look forward to planning a return to our home markets.”
The Storm will not be playing in their normal home this season, which is still being renovated. The defending champion will be in Everett,Washington, play. The Los Angeles Sparks will host home games at both the Staples Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center.
The league is in its 25th season and will feature the inaugural Commissioner’s Cup, the WNBA All-Star Game, The W25’s selection, the greatest players since the league’s inception in 1997 and the unveiling of the 25 greatest moments of the WNBA in the second half of the season as well as the playoffs of No. 25 to No. 1.
The WNBA draft is Thursday evening and for the second time in a row will be held practically because of the pandemic.
players register this weekend for the opening of the training camp on April 25th and have to quarantine and test a few days in advance.
More AP sports: “We have learned from the bladder and there will be a test protocol,before they hit the market, ”said Engelbert. “There will be a whole regiment and it will be different whether you are vaccinated or not.” and https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports