NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has long been saying he hopes some fans can be in attendance when the 2020-21 season begins.
That was not possible when the 2019-20 campaign resumed after a four-month hiatus caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The invited teams had to enter a bubble and adhere to a strict testing regime in Orlando from July to October.
Even family members of the players were not allowed in before the start of the second round of the playoffs. But as the NBA has more time now to carefully draw a plan for the new season, league officials can possibly come up with a solution that — similarly to the NFL — would allow the teams to host fans inside their home arenas.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the NBA is hoping that the teams could accommodate spectators at up to 50% capacity in arena suites at the beginning of the 2020-21 season:
The coronavirus pandemic has made life fluid, and a clinical vaccine will play a role in this too. NBA's goal is some amount of fans to start the season, depending on each market's restrictions. Courtside fans, for instance, would be about 10-to-12 feet away, sources said. https://t.co/9I9cdN1gN3
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 5, 2020
Fan attendance is an important part of the negotiations over the new season’s structure. The lack of game day revenue for the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign hurt the NBA financially and could cause more issues moving forward.
The league has now decided on Dec. 22 start date for the new, 72-game season. However, it is unclear which teams will be in markets that permit for fans to attend games in a reduced capacity.
Lakers rule out fans attending home games to begin 2020-21 season
The Los Angeles Lakers have already announced they will not have fans in attendance for home games at Staples Center. The policy will remain in place for an indefinite period of time.
“The health and safety of our fans, players, staff, and community are our main priority,” the Lakers said in a statement. “[We] will continue to work with state and local officials to come up with a plan to safely welcome fans back to Staples Center in adherence with local, state, and NBA guidelines.”
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