Seattle Storm players (from left) Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Crystal Langhorne, Sue Bird, Alysha Clark and Natasha Howard react to their championship banner being revealed during a pregame ceremony in May 2019 at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett. Because of the pandemic, the Storm won’t be playing any games in Everett this year. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Seattle Storm players (from left) Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Crystal Langhorne, Sue Bird, Alysha Clark and Natasha Howard react to their championship banner being revealed during a pregame ceremony in May 2019 at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett. Because of the pandemic, the Storm won’t be playing any games in Everett this year. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Seattle Storm won’t play any games in Everett this year

The pandemic forces the WNBA to play a 22-game regular season starting in late July without fans present.

SEATTLE — The Seattle Storm won’t be coming back to Everett in 2020 after all.

On Monday the WNBA announced its plan for playing the 2020 season, and the plan means the Storm, who played five games at Angel of the Winds Arena in 2019 and were scheduled to play eight regular season games there in 2020, won’t be playing in Everett this year.

“We’re sorry that we won’t be able to host the Seattle Storm in 2020 after such a fantastic season last year,” Angel of the Winds Arena general manager Corey Margolis said. “But we understand that these are unprecedented times. We’re happy the WNBA found a solution to have their season, to have their athletes compete, and we’re hopeful the Seattle Storm have a lot of success this season. We’ll be cheering for them in Everett.”

The WNBA season, originally scheduled to begin May 15, had been postponed indefinitely because of the coronavirus outbreak. The plan for getting the season started calls for all activity in 2020 to take place at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Teams are scheduled to report for training camp in early July, followed by a 22-game regular season and a traditional playoff format. Games will be played without fans. The plan is dependent upon the ability to maintain health and safety standards regarding COVID-19.

The Storm were without a permanent home arena for the 2019 and 2020 seasons because of the construction of the new Seattle arena. Last year the Storm played five of their 17 home games at Angel of the Winds — the other 12 were at the University of Washington’s Alaska Airlines Arena — and were a big hit. Seattle went 4-1 in games in Everett, with an announced average attendance of 6,816, and the injury-plagued Storm surprised the league by finishing 18-16 and earning the No. 6 seed to the playoffs.

The partnership was successful enough that Seattle increased the number of games in Everett this season, with eight games scheduled for Angel of the Winds in August and September. With Seattle’s two biggest stars, 2018 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart and living legend Sue Bird, on track to return this season after sitting out all of last season because of injuries, the Storm were expected to be championship contenders. Now Everett won’t get its chance to be a part of that.

The Storm are scheduled to move into their new home next season, but that’s dependent upon the new Seattle arena being completed on time. Construction has continued on the arena during the coronavirus restrictions, with the arena needing to be completed in time for the launch of the NHL expansion franchise in October of 2021. However, slowdowns have put the hoped-for June 1 completion date in jeopardy. Any delays in the opening of the new arena will force the Storm to play home games elsewhere, and Angel of the Winds would be a candidate.

“Obviously it has a lot to do with the construction in downtown Seattle,” said Margolis, who is hoping to be able to open Angel of the Winds’ Community Ice Rink in a limited capacity in early July. “But should there be a need, we’d be happy to host the Seattle Storm again. We’ve really enjoyed the partnership, and they obviously have a great team and brand. They’ve been a pleasure to work with, and if we’re needed we’re ready to host again.”

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