WNBA to Hold Commissioner's Cup Tournament Featuring $500K Prize Pool

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 12, 2021

PALMETTO, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 20: A general view of the WNBA logo is seen on the court before Game One of the Third Round playoff between the Las Vegas Aces and the Connecticut Sun at Feld Entertainment Center on September 20, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Commissioner's Cup will finally make its WNBA debut during the 2021 season.

The league announced Wednesday there will be 10 games for each team throughout the regular season that also count toward the Commissioner's Cup standings. The first-place teams in each conference will face off Aug. 12 with a $500,000 prize pool up for grabs.

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"Together, we view the Commissioner’s Cup not just as a compelling competition, but as a multi-faceted platform designed to drive opportunities for broader fan engagement, create additional interest around our regular season games, convene around equity and equality themes in our WNBA markets, and provide the players with an opportunity to earn significant cash compensation," WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said.

Each player on the winning team will receive $30,000, with players on the losing team getting $10,000 apiece. The MVP of the title game will collect another $5,000.

The WNBA also announced "a multi-year agreement giving Prime Video exclusive global streaming rights to 16 WNBA games per season." The agreement is historic because it will be "the first time Prime Video has exclusive global streaming rights to a women’s professional sports league."

The WNBA was initially aiming to roll out the Commissioner's Cup in 2020, but it was shelved because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The season was cut down to 22 games, making it impossible to add in an in-season tournament.

The Cup will take place between May 14 and July 11, which is the last day of the season before the league goes on break for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The championship game will serve to signal the resumption of action Aug. 15.

The idea of the NBA staging an in-season tournament alongside its regular season has been thrown around for a few years, with the league tabling the proposal in December 2019. The furthest it has gone in practice is the play-in tournament to determine the final two playoff seeds.

Depending on the success of the Commissioner's Cup, it could potentially serve as an inspiration for a similar concept in the NBA.