The NBA is planning for fans fans to attend games during the 2020-21 season … just not many.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Commissioner Adam Silver and Co. want to allow a small number of people to attend games with mask-wearing, social distancing, and testing protocols. More specifically, the league would like for guest suites to be filled at 25-50 percent capacity.
Sources: The NBA aims to have arena suites open to fans at 25-to-50 percent capacity for 2020-21 season tipoff, based on local regulations. An amount of fans — under protocols such as masks, social distancing and coronavirus testing — is a goal to start season.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 5, 2020
What’s unclear is whether or not this will be allowed in every NBA team’s home arena.
Certain markets and local governments will have different restrictions than others, and the league will have to work with each organization to set a specific attendance number. For example, Charania did report that there could be a market where courtside fans are allowed, but this would be a distance of 10-15 feet away from the court. (Michael: Complete speculation, but it’s at least possible that some sort of special revenue sharing system could alleviate some of the concerns for markets that cannot host fans).
If this is currently the league’s mindset, one has to imagine that they will continue to look for ways to get fans in the building throughout the season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see certain markets increase their attendance numbers depending on the local number of COVID cases. Around the time the season is starting, however, we probably shouldn’t expect to see many butts in seats. The virus could very well get worse in the winter months, which increases the overall risk for each team.
Chicago did not allow fans at Wrigley Field for the Cubs season, and they have yet to allow fans into Bears games (yet). With that being the case, I doubt the Bulls get permission to have fans inside the United Center during the beginning of their 2020-21 campaign.
If the teams can funnel in some fans to some games, that’s still a big positive for the league. Any extra revenue will be a welcomed sight as the NBA tries to lessen the recent financial hit. I suspect will get more clarity on the league’s expectations as more information about the start of next season comes out. The NBPA is reportedly set to vote on a proposed plan to begin the season on December 22nd later today. Check out our post from Wednesday for more on that.