The NBA is making desperate plans to avoid having to play games in empty arenas because of coronavirus.
The league is discussing the possibility of relocating games to cities that aren’t facing a coronavirus crisis, according to ESPN.
The possibility of moving NBA games to the road team’s arena or neutral sites has been discussed, along with the last-resort scenarios of keeping fans out of games or even suspending play, per ESPN. But the report says the lack of public coronavirus testing in the United States is complicating the league’s plans because nobody has a grasp on the full scope of the virus’ footprint.
A board of governors call is reportedly scheduled on Wednesday, with two separate calls for team presidents and general managers set for Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports MLB is discussing potentially moving teams into other MLB stadiums when that host team is on the road. Regular-season games being played at spring training facilities is another consideration.
More sporting events in the US are being impacted by the coronavirus by the day. On Tuesday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recommended that indoor sporting events be held without spectators. The NCAA, which has the First Four of March Madness scheduled in Dayton next week as well as first- and second-round games set in Cleveland, has not yet decided if it will go along with the recommendation. The Columbus Blue Jackets, Columbus Crew and the Cleveland arena which hosts the Cavaliers and the Monsters minor-league hockey team have said for now fans will still be allowed into games.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is set to announce Wednesday he is banning gatherings of more than 250 people in the greater Seattle area, which would directly impact the Seattle Mariners, who are set to open the season at home on March 26. The Mariners are scheduled to play their first seven games at home. At least 24 people in Washington state have died from COVID-19.
The Seattle Sounders MLS team and the XFL’s Seattle Dragons would also be affected. The Sounders’ next scheduled home game is March 21, while the Dragons have scheduled home games on March 15 and 22.
Santa Clara County in California has already banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people, impacting the San Jose Sharks, San Jose Earthquakes and the women’s NCAA Tournament. The Ivy League cancelled its men’s and women’s postseason tournaments.
But for now, it seems the NBA will exhaust all measures before telling fans to stay home.