New 2008 WNBA collective bargaining agreement
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The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) announced today that they have entered into a new collective bargaining agreement covering six seasons, commencing with the 2008 season and continuing through 2013.
“We are delighted that the CBA is completed and that the players and the WNBA can focus on growing the league’s popularity and business model,” said Pam Wheeler, Director of Operations, WNBA Players Association. “This is a landmark agreement for our players with important precedents that will enhance salaries, free agency opportunities, and quality of life issues for every segment of our player population.”
"We're extremely pleased to have long term stability and to emerge from this process with a unified outlook among ownership and players,” said league President Donna Orender. "The new collective bargaining agreement, coupled with our new television deal and increased activation on the part of our sponsors provides further affirmation regarding the growth, popularity and quality of our game."
The announcement follows a successful 2007 season in which the WNBA set attendance records for the Playoffs (216,863 fans attending 21 games) and Finals (74,178 fans over five games) and saw regular season attendance increase by 2 percent. Similarly, viewership of the WNBA Playoffs on ESPN2 delivered an aggregate 15 percent increase year-to-year vs. 2006 while average viewership of the WNBA Finals increased by 12 percent. The 2007 campaign also was highlighted by a new eight-year television agreement with ESPN, which extends the league’s relationship with the network to 20 seasons.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, player salaries are guaranteed to increase each year league-wide, and the individual minimum and maximum player salaries will also continue to grow. In addition, the new agreement, like the expired CBA, includes a revenue sharing component should league revenues hit agreed upon benchmarks.
The new agreement also includes adjustments to the free agency system that will increase player movement -- specifically, the number of players that each team may designate as core players decreases from two to one beginning in 2009. When a team designates a player as a core player, the team receives exclusive negotiating rights to that player in exchange for an offer of a fully guaranteed, one-year contract at the maximum salary.
“On behalf of our negotiating committee and the entire union membership we feel very fortunate to have completed a deal that we think will help veterans and younger players alike,” said Players Association President and Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings. “The new CBA represents a breakthrough for the players and we appreciate the league’s willingness to address many of the issues that we raised during the negotiations.”
The WNBA also announced that the league’s newest team, the Atlanta Dream, will conduct an expansion draft on February 6.
Teams will open training camp on April 20, and preseason games will begin on April 27. The WNBA regular season will tip off on May 17, when Lisa Leslie and the Los Angeles Sparks take on Diana Taurasi and the defending champion Phoenix Mercury in a nationally televised contest (3:30p.m. on ABC).
About the WNBA
Now entering its 12th season, the WNBA is the longest-running and most successful women’s professional team sports league in America. The WNBA features 14 teams with the Eastern and Western Conferences comprised of seven teams each. In 2008, the expansion Atlanta Dream will join the Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Detroit Shock, Indiana Fever, New York Liberty and Washington Mystics in the Eastern Conference, while the Houston Comets, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, Phoenix Mercury, Sacramento Monarchs, San Antonio Silver Stars and Seattle Storm continue to comprise the Western Conference.
The 2008 season will tip off on May 17 and, for the third straight year, ESPN2 will feature “WNBA Tuesdays” as the appointment viewing destination for WNBA fans. ESPN2 will televise “WNBA Tuesdays” for nine weeks during the regular season, beginning with a May 20th telecast featuring a Western Conference match up between the Sacramento Monarchs and Seattle Storm. Combined WNBA coverage on ABC and ESPN2 will include 21 national telecasts in 2008, while NBA TV, the league’s 24-hour television network, will offer 70 regular season contests.