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Cuban: Expect NBA play to resume in empty arenas

NBA horizontal logoDallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban expects the NBA to resume play in empty arenas, but it’s not clear whether that would happen to end the 2019-2020 season or to begin the 2020-2021 season.

That pro sports is likely to begin again with play sans fans in pretty much a given across the board, with MLB exploring a launch to the 2020 season in spring-training ballparks. For the NBA, there are two outstanding issues: the end of the 2019-2020 season and the beginning of the 2020-2021 season. Under a commonly floated scenario, the 2019-2020 playoffs could be played this summer if deemed safe and the 2020-2021 season could begin around Christmas–again, if deemed safe by health authorities. One idea floated has the playoffs held in Las Vegas, with players and staff quarantined in nearby hotels. Cuban backed up the empty-arena plan:

“I think initially we’ll play just for the TV cameras, with essential personnel and players,” Cuban, the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“That’s a great thing, because I think we need things to cheer for. We need things to get excited about,” he said. As the league restarts, “we won’t do anything to jeopardize the safety of our players or employees.”

How to bring fans back to arenas once health authorities sign off on pro sports is a huge challenge, as we see in the polls. Beginning play without fans is a way to project safety while at the same engaging fans is a smart way to handing the coronavirus pandemic.

The article first appeared in the Venues Digest newsletter, focusing on coronavirus information across the ballparks, arenas, stadiums, theater and performing-arts worlds. It’s free of charge to industry professionals. Sign up here.

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