One of the most-watched basketball leagues in the world, the NBA (National Basketball Association) in America is all set to resume in July 2020, and has a nearly foolproof plan to sustain itself in the times of the global pandemic. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver proposed the idea of having the rest of the season at one location and it seems that he has got approval from the team owners.
Where and when will they play? The dates are not yet decided, but 22 NBA teams from both eastern and western conferences will be put together at the ESPN Wide World of Sports campus at Disney World in Orlando, Florida! The area is a humongous 220 acres, and has many sports facilities and a broadcasting center. The players will have multiple areas for them to train in, beautiful hotels to stay in, and a stadium for them to play in!
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All matches will be played within the campus and the teams will be put up in different hotels inside the complex. Once inside, the players and support staff won’t be allowed to move out. The venue will also have adequate medical facilities. All teams will undergo a 14-day quarantine period and a rigorous safety mechanism will be put in place. Even the television crews who will be required for the live broadcast will be housed inside the Disney campus. The exact details will be clear closer to the date but the teams are expected to report at the Disney facility by June end and matches will start from 15th July. Strict medical guidelines will be followed and anyone with symptoms of the virus infection will be put into isolation immediately.
The business side: Disney owns ESPN, the sports network, which broadcasts the NBA games on television. ESPN pays the League a lot of money every year for the rights to televise the matches. Disney World has been shut since mid-March due to the coronavirus infections, and is losing A LOT of money. This deal will allow it to open up the ESPN area, hotels, rstaurants, and put people back to work. This will be a good deal for both the NBA and Disney.
Major League Soccer which is the top division league for football in the United States will follow the NBA plan and are likely to share the vast Disney campus with the basketball stars. Since the United States struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic and has registered over 2 million cases and 1 lakh deaths, the plans for resuming the sports are not yet final. Although the leagues have taken the necessary permissions, the government has advised them to be careful in resuming the sports.
Written by: Yash Chawla. Yash is former Anchor of NDTV with over 9 years of experience as a sports journalist.