W.N.B.A. Postpones Start of Season

81

The W.N.B.A. has postponed the beginning of its season due to the coronavirus pandemic, with no indication when play would start.

The league was scheduled to open coaching camps on April 26 and the common season was set to start on May 15. The W.N.B.A. will nonetheless maintain a “virtual” draft on April 17.

W.N.B.A. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert stated in an announcement on Friday that the league will “use this time to conduct scenario-planning regarding new start dates and innovative formats.”

“Our guiding principle will continue to be the health and safety of the players, fans and employees,” Engelbert stated.

The W.N.B.A., which was set to start its 24th season, is the longest operating skilled girls’s sports activities league. With the Summer Olympics additionally postponed, the W.N.B.A. may have further flexibility with its schedule. The league was set to go on a monthlong break beginning July 10 to permit gamers to take part within the Tokyo Games. The U.S. girls’s basketball group has gained six consecutive gold medals.

Every different main sports activities league has been placed on maintain due to the virus. The N.B.A. suspended its season on March 11 after one in all its gamers examined constructive for the virus. In an interview with The New York Times final month, Engelbert stated that the morning after the N.B.A. suspended its season she contacted Terri Jackson, the pinnacle of the W.N.B.A.’s gamers’ union, to debate plans for delaying their season for as much as 90 days.

The delay may place the seasons of the W.N.B.A. and N.B.A. to overlap rather more than typical; the N.B.A. sometimes has only a month of playoff video games remaining when the W.N.B.A.’s season begins. Engelbert informed The Times that further overlap this yr may give her league an opportunity to reveal itself to new audiences, resembling by enjoying home video games in numerous venues or by having doubleheaders with N.B.A. video games.

“One of our transformational goals is to expand the fandom, expand the reach of the W.N.B.A. beyond our 12 cities to get more exposure to our players in our potential fan population,” Engelbert informed The Times. “So we could actually be creative here and think about other cities.”

Two W.N.B.A. cities are main sizzling spots for the virus: New York and Seattle. One of the Storm’s properties for the season, the Angel of the Winds Arena, is getting used as a coronavirus isolation website.

The Las Vegas on line casino the place the Aces play is shut, as is the Connecticut Sun’s home area.

“We continue to send our thoughts and prayers to our players, fans, and all of those in the community impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and are grateful to those selfless health care workers and first responders who work tirelessly on the front lines,” Engelbert stated within the assertion on Friday.