NBA to play games at home venues with fans in attendance?

The 2019-20 NBA season was suspended back on March 11 after a star player tested positive for COVID-19. Once the season resumed inside the Walt Disney World bubble in late July, everything has seemingly gone well for the Association.

Playing inside a bubble has helped the NBA avoid the outbreaks we’ve seen around the Major League Baseball world. With that said, it’s also led to a major downtick in revenue now that fans are not allowed in attendance.

The powers that be within the NBA are now looking to change this for the 2020-21 season.

NBA tells teams it wants games played at home venues with fans in attendance

“For next season, the NBA prefers in-market competition with reduced travel and an amount of fans — instead of the bubble environment it is playing in currently,” Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Friday.

This was part of a larger conversation between NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the Board of Governors during a meeting on Thursday. Said meeting concluded that the 2020-21 season will now start no earlier than Christmas Day.

We had previously noted that the NBA was open to push back the start of next season until the 2021 calendar year if it means teams being able to play games in their home venues with at least some fans in attendance.

The issue here is that local governments have different policies relating to the pandemic. We’ve already seen this come up through just one game of the 2020 NFL season. For example, the Kansas City Chiefs had over 16,000 fans in attendance for their season opener against the Houston Texans Thursday evening. Other teams will not host fans throughout the entire 2020 campaign.

Realistically, a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus would have to be available in a widespread manner if the NBA were to follow through with this plan. A new rapid 15-minute test that the league has been working on with health officials could be an option, too.

If the NBA is unable to make this plan a reality, it is looking into the possibility of four bubble cities. That would include Orlando, Las Vegas, Dallas and New York City. At this point, that’s the worst-case scenario.

More NBA notes from meeting

  • The NBA still plans on playing a full 82-game schedule for the 2020-21 season.
  • Teams will be able to conduct in-person interviews with 2020 NBA Draft prospects as early as mid-October. Remember, the draft itself has now been pushed back to November 18.
  • NBA teams will be given an eight-week notice as it relates to the schedule for the 2020-21 NBA season.