For a number of weeks, the NBA has seemed determined to find a track to resume the 2019-20 season – and multiple media reports indicate that plan is finally starting to take shape.The Athletic reported Wednesday morning that the NBA hopes to play games again as soon as mid-July, with Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando emerging as a favored location. If games resume, it is widely expected that they will be played without fans present.While numerous cities have been rumored to be considered hosting games, including Houston and Las Vegas, The Athletic reported Disney World’s viability is tied to its private ownership, with property including the Wide World of Sports Complex with multiple basketball courts. Hotels and other resources could create a “campus-like” bubble the NBA has been seeking to resume the season on hiatus since March 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Even though coronavirus cases have soared to more than 1.5 million in the United States and been attributed to more than 93,000 deaths, pro sports leagues have been scouring to see what options are available to resume play. Prominent NBA voices, including the Lakers’ LeBron James, have come out in support of resuming the season and recouping millions (perhaps billions) of lost revenue from the hiatus. Both the Lakers and the Clippers have begun individual workouts at their respective team facilities under strict sanitizing and distancing guidelines. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The challenges of opening up competition in the NBA’s regular markets and arenas are complex and vast. Individual states and municipalities have varying guidelines for what businesses and services can operate – sports with fans are generally seen as one of the last public events that will be permitted on the road to normalcy. While Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated earlier this week that pro sports without fans could start making a comeback as soon as next month, California has been one of the more cautious states about lifting quarantine restrictions.The suggestion of Disney World as a “bubble” site for the NBA first arose in April: Disney is the parent company of ESPN, one of the NBA’s largest media partners. Disney CEO Bob Iger has spoken to league owners during meetings during the hiatus. The league formerly hosted Summer League events in Orlando for roughly 15 years. The Wide World of Sports Complex has about 12 courts and access to broadcasting facilities.The partnership could be just as vital to Disney, which has struggled through the closure of many of its parks and could use the appeal of basketball programming for ESPN and ABC. It opened a small section of Disney World Springs in Orlando on Wednesday with temperature checks for incoming park-goers.Testing could be one of the biggest barriers to a return: Adam Silver expressed on a call with players earlier this month that the league wanted to make sure it would not siphon tests from essential personnel and medical providers to make them available for NBA players and staff.ESPN also reported on Wednesday that NBA owners anticipated NBA commissioner Adam Silver would greenlight a return to competition sometime next month, with games expected to begin by mid-July. By June 1, many teams expect the NBA to issue guidelines to bring back players who are living outside their team markets and expand workouts at team facilities.
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