Officials reportedly are reviewing several scenarios for the NBA 2020 return, with Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex now a contender to host the games.
Now closed as part of the wider closure of Disney World, the 255-acre ESPN Wide World of Sports complex features several venues that can host basketball games closed to fans: HP Field House, the Visa Athletic Center and The Arena. Players, officials and team officials could stay at a nearby closed resort. The plus to hosting at ESPN Wide World of Sports: everything is already set up, between playing spaces, locker rooms, hotel rooms and broadcast facilities. Disney runs an internal WWoS broadcast network and is set up with camera, studio and editing stations. From the Orlando Sentinel:
It’s important to note the league has made no decision about resuming its season. Commissioner Adam Silver continues to stress the league’s top priority is maintaining the health and safety of everyone connected to the NBA.
Extensive coronavirus tests also would likely be required to resume play and Silver pledged the league would not commit to using those tests before they were widely available to the general public.
It’s clear that Orlando is just one option for the NBA, as no one expects any game action to begin. Previously, Las Vegas had been discussed as a potential site to launch games and playoffs sans fans, but with Disney a partner to the league via the ABC/ESPN broadcast deal, a launch at Disney World makes sense. NBA teams are now allowing training facilities to open where allow by local law, but stay-at-home orders are across the board in the United States and Canada. 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.
Photo courtesy Disney.
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