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Sports >  National sports

WNBA expands to 36-game regular-season schedule, adds Commissioner’s Cup tournament

UPDATED: Thu., Jan. 16, 2020

Seattle Storm players gather in a celebratory huddle after a 94-84 win over the Phoenix Mercury during Game 5 of a WNBA playoff semifinal, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / AP)
Seattle Storm players gather in a celebratory huddle after a 94-84 win over the Phoenix Mercury during Game 5 of a WNBA playoff semifinal, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / AP)
By Percy Allen Seattle Times

Days after completing a new collective bargaining agreement, the WNBA released an expanded 2020 schedule that increases the regular season from 34 to 36 games.

The Storm will open at home on May 15 against the Dallas Wings.

Due to the construction of the new arena at Seattle Center, Seattle will play its first 10 home games at Alaska Airlines Arena prior to a leaguewide break for the 2020 Olympic Games.

The Storm’s remaining eight home contests will be held at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett.

“The transformative collective bargaining agreement and expansion to a 36-game season signals the positive trajectory of our league,” Storm CEO Alisha Valavanis said in a statement. “We are eager to carry this momentum into this season of Storm basketball.”

A few highlights of the Storm’s 2020 schedule:

The Storm, who won the 2018 WNBA title, will host defending league champion Washington on May 29. Two days prior, Seattle hosts Connecticut, which lost to the Mystics in last year’s WNBA Finals.

  • Former Washington Huskies star Kelsey Plum returns to Seattle with the Las Vegas Aces on May 31.
  • ESPN2 will broadcast Storm games at Washington (June 2), at Dallas (June 23), against Minnesota (Aug. 25) and Phoenix (Sept. 13). The ESPN networks will televise 17 WNBA regular-season games, including five on ABC up from three last year.
  • On June 20, Seattle hosts Los Angeles, which knocked the Storm out of the 2019 playoffs in the second round.
  • There will be a break in the schedule for the Tokyo Olympics from July 11 to Aug. 16.
  • The Storm end the regular season with a difficult five-game homestand (Washington, Connecticut, Phoenix, Atlanta and Los Angeles) that concludes Sept. 20.

The WNBA also announced the creation of the Commissioner’s Cup, an in-season tournament consisting of 10 games for each team. The games will be the first home and road games against conference opponents.

The Storm’s Cup games are as follows: May 15, 17, 19, 22, 31, June 14, 16, 20, 25 and July 3.

The top two teams from the East and West conference based on their win-loss records will meet in the Commissioner’s Cup Championship game that’s tentatively scheduled for Aug. 14 at a site to be announced, two days before the regular season resumes on Aug. 16 following the Olympic break.

“The Commissioner’s Cup offers fans another competition through which to support their favorite teams,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. “(It) adds a new dimension to the season for our players and teams.”

Starting in 2021, the prize money for the Commissioner’s Cup and other in-season tournaments will be a minimum of $750,000.

“We aren’t just adding games. We’re kind of finding ways to garner new fans,” WNBA players’ union president Nneka Ogwumike said. “The new schedule and Commissioner’s Cup will reflect the progress and innovation we’ve been discussing.”

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