Baku, May 22, AZERTAC
In addition to Orlando and Las Vegas, the NBA is now considering downtown Houston as a potential host site for regular-season and playoff games this summer, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Rockets Wire reports.
Recent reports have suggested increased optimism for the resumption of the 2019-20 season, which has been on hold since March 12 due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. But given the risks that are still present with the virus, the league knows it can’t simply go back to business as usual, even in a world with increased testing capabilities.
The most frequently discussed model for the NBA’s return is a scenario where one or two cities host many or all teams for games without fans, since this would reduce the risks associated with travel. While Orlando and Las Vegas are said to be the frontrunners, given their infrastructure such as Disney World and large casinos to create a campus environment, it seems downtown Houston is also in the running.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that professional sports without fans would be allowed to resume in the state as of May 31, which would make the Houston plan logistically and politically feasible.
O’Connor also reports that teams could still potentially play games in their own arenas, albeit without fans, as is the plan in Major League Baseball. Such a choice would effectively depend on how much risk that teams and players are willing to take, and whether they would accept a slightly higher risk of the virus in exchange for the comforts of home.
Since the NBA has yet to reach a formal agreement with its players’ union, numerous options remain on the table— including downtown Houston.
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