NBA Looking Into to Return at Wide World of Sports Complex, Targets Late July Start
We’ve been waiting more than 10 weeks to see some action with the NHL and the NBA since both leagues put their respective seasons on pause back in mid-March. There has been progress in both leagues as far as getting traction on a potential return to the playing surface, either to finish the regular season or the postseason, and eventually crown a champion. The recent news has been positive and things are clearly trending in the right direction. As the weekend started, we heard even more good news about the potential return to the hardwood.
According to a statement from NBA spokesman Mike Bass, the league is looking into restarting the season in late July at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando. His statement says:
"The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season in late July at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing. Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place."
At this stage, it is unclear if the league plans on playing some, all or none of the remaining regular season contests on the schedule. The potential for going straight to the postseason is there, as is the potential for an expanded field similar to what the NHL has looked into doing for this season. There is plenty of space at the Wide World of Sports Complex as the site houses three arenas. There are plenty of hotel options around the complex, both on the Disney World premises and in the nearby Orlando area. That alone can help trim down the potential of outside exposure penetrating the bubble that the league is attempting to create.
The decision to play in Orlando should the league return capped an exhaustive search that saw cities like Houston, Las Vegas and Toronto present themselves as potential locales. The venue availability and accommodations, coupled with Governor Ron DeSantis opening the state to sports like UFC and sports entertainment companies WWE and AEW prior to throwing the doors open for team sports may have given them the edge over Las Vegas, where the league typically stages Summer League action.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, there are teams that are in stricter stay-at-home environments if they can head directly to the Orlando area for the start of training camp. That way, players could avoid heading to a city like Boston or New York City to wait out a two-week quarantine period before going to Orlando and having to engage in another quarantine. As it stands, we’ll find out more next week as the league’s board of governors are expected to have a call next Friday, which will give everyone more information and guidance regarding the timetable.
Given the fact that fans have been waiting nearly two and a half months to get some sort of guidance about when they might be able to see some action on the hardwood. Now, with things started to come together and crystallize, things are only moving forward. Hopefully things continue in this direction in the coming days so we can crown a champion.