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WNBA exploring Las Vegas, Florida as possible neutral single-site locations

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert (Credit: Getty Images)

The Women’s National Basketball Association is reportedly considering staging its 2020 season at a neutral single-site location in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Associated Press, a MGM Resorts International property in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, are the top locations.

The WNBA season was due to begin on May 15 but the campaign was indefinitely postponed in April due to the ongoing health crisis.

If the WNBA does decide to stage its season in Las Vegas, the home court of the Las Vegas Aces at the Mandalay Bay Events Center will not be used as it would give the team a competitive advantage.

The league is scheduled to be the latest team-based organization to stage its season a single site this year. World TeamTennis, the Premier Lacrosse League and National Women’s Soccer League have already announced such plans, while the likes of the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer are making major progress to follow suit.

The 2020 WNBA Draft in April enjoyed a significant ratings boost thanks in large part to the event’s place of pride on the main ESPN network and the dearth of any competing sports broadcasts amid the Covid-19 shutdown.

This year’s event, which was shifted to a virtual format in light of the ongoing health crisis, averaged 387,000 viewers on ESPN, which was up 123 per cent over the 2019 Draft on ESPN2 and ESPNU. It was also the most-watched WNBA Draft in 16 years and the second most-watched in ESPN’s history.

The WNBA Draft, which took place on April 17, was originally scheduled to air on ESPN2 but was moved up to ESPN. There was also significant interest due to the presence of women’s basketball superstar Sabrina Ionescu, who was selected No. 1 overall by the New York Liberty.