The Dream are set to begin their 13th season in the WNBA in late July
ATLANTA – The WNBA plans to start the 2020 WNBA Season in late July, with all 12 teams playing at a single site without fans in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league office announced today. The league is finalizing a partnership that would make IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, the Official Home of the 2020 season highlighted by a competitive schedule of 22 regular-season games followed by a traditional playoff format.
Beginning in July, IMG Academy will be the home for each of the league’s 12 teams and serve as a single site for training camp, games and housing. The top priority continues to be the health and safety of players and staff, and the league is working with medical specialists, public health experts, and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place.
“After an exciting free agency and draft, the coaches and athletes are thrilled to start the 2020 season in the coming weeks,” said Dream President and General Manager Chris Sienko. “We are grateful for the efforts of all involved to get us to this point. Our biggest disappointment with this news is the inability to play in front of our fans and at our new home, Gateway Center Arena. However, we hope we can count on our fans to follow and support us – regardless of location. This will be a fun, action-packed season!”
Although the season will be played without fans in attendance, the WNBA will continue to build on the current momentum thanks to broadcast partners ESPN, CBS Sports Network and NBA TV, as well as the Dream’s regional partner for the 2020 season, FOX Sports South, FOX Sports Southeast and FOX Sports GO. A schedule of games and television coverage will be announced at a later date.
“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,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “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.”
The decision was made after significant discussions with the league’s key stakeholders, including the WNBA Board of Governors and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA). Teams will be required to report to the site in early July and the regular-season action will tip off in late July after a team training camp period.
“As home to some of the world’s leading athletes, coaches and performance experts, IMG Academy is thrilled to partner with the top women’s basketball players in the world and the entire WNBA family,” said Tim Pernetti, Executive Vice President, IMG Events & Media. “We are truly looking forward to becoming the Official Home of the 2020 WNBA Season and working closely with the league in providing our best-in-class training and competition environment.”
The Atlanta Dream revamped their roster this offseason, returning four Dream veterans and bringing in a crop of top talent through free agency and the 2020 WNBA Draft. The team acquired Courtney Williams and Kalani Brown through trades, and brought in top free agents Shekinna Stricklen and Glory Johnson. Atlanta also drafted 5-9 guard Chennedy Carter out of Texas A&M with the fourth overall selection in the 2020 WNBA Draft.
This season marks the organization’ 13th in the WNBA. The Dream have qualified for the playoffs nine times, winning conference titles in 2013, 2011 and 2010.