June 3, 2020 

Report: Las Vegas and Florida top WNBA’s list of bubble league sites

While there is no guarantee that basketball will be played this summer, the WNBA is reportedly considering MGM Resorts and IMG Academy as host sites for a remote competition.

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The 2020 WNBA season, set to begin on May 15, was suspended in early April due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the league and players’ association have been considering various options to hold a season this summer, with reports of a bubble league seemingly leading the way.

On Wednesday, Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press reported that Commissioner Cathy Engelbert considers MGM Resorts in Las Vegas and IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida as top choices for a host site. MGM, of course, owns several properties in Las Vegas, including Mandalay Bay, home of the Aces. Seeing as Mandalay Bay is already a WNBA arena and one that successfully hosted the 2019 All-Star Weekend, the stadium was seen as a clear choice by many as a possible bubble league site. However, according to the AP, the league would “likely” rule out Mandalay Bay because it “wouldn’t want to give the Aces even more of a competitive advantage.”

IMG Academy, 100 miles from Orlando, is a state of the art training center that many professional athletes like the Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler, NBA veteran Iman Shumpert and tennis star Serena Williams have each visited during their offseasons. Florida seems to be a popular location for single-site competitions as other leagues like the NBA and MLS are reportedly also considering hosting their own competitions in the Sunshine State.

While the WNBA is still planning and considering its options, no details for how a season would occur at either of these sites have been announced yet. However, ESPN reported last month that the WNBA’s plans “would likely include a shortened season.” The league’s new collective bargaining agreement originally increased the season schedule from 34 to 36 games in 2020, but it seems increasingly like the WNBA will condense its regular season and playoffs schedule.

“It may be too late to play our full season at some point; we’re probably going to come up on that by early July,” Engelbert told ESPN last month. “But as we look at some of the more realistic scenarios of the number of games we could get in with a competitive playoff structure, you could get later in the summer as a start time. And you could go to different formats. I think our players are open to that as well.”

The league did enforce a May 26 deadline for teams to cut their rosters down to 12 players so that players could begin to get paid, and the AP reported that players received their first check on Monday and will receive another check in a couple of weeks. According to the AP, players typically get paid nine times during an Olympic year, but because the Tokyo Games were postponed until 2021 the players will receive checks over 12 pay periods.

Written by Bela Kirpalani

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