Professional sports still finds itself scrambling for ways to get back to playing games amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Basketball has taken a huge hit as the 2019-20 NBA season was put on hiatus on March 11, while the WNBA postponed the start of training camp and their regular season.
Player safety and health are the primary road blocks for returning to game action, and so far league officials are looking at ways to play in isolated environments.
Several options have been discussed, and MGM Resorts International has provided an intriguing solution according to Kevin Draper of New York Times:
According to a proposal deck sent to the N.B.A. and the W.N.B.A., which The New York Times reviewed, MGM envisions a fully quarantined campus, essentially one full block of the Las Vegas Strip, where players would live and play out whatever schedule the leagues want. The athletes would be joined by their families, league and broadcast media employees, as well as the staff and vendors needed to serve them, with access to lounges, spas, restaurants and all the other perks the resorts offer (yes, even gambling).
The centerpiece of the proposal to the N.B.A. is the Mandalay Bay resort, which has 4,700 rooms at three connected hotels at the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip: the Mandalay Bay, the Four Seasons and the Delano. They are also connected by an enclosed walkway to the Luxor hotel, which is where MGM service staff such as housekeepers and caterers would live.
Las Vegas experienced a massive economic hit as they depend on tourism, but this does mean there is ample room on the Strip to house all the players, their families, team officials, and media that would be present if the NBA and WNBA find it feasible to move there.
The hotels, especially Mandalay Bay, have the capacity to house multiple basketball courts, making it viable for teams to both play official games and practice.
The Walt Disney World Resort is also another option on the table for the NBA as the Wide World of Sports Complex comes equipped with on-site housing and the HP Field House basketball court. However, much like the MGM proposal, a sticking point is adequate COVID-19 testing to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
While it is good to see leagues being proactive in trying to find ways to resume playing, the sense is that it is still a long way off until that happens.