Report: NBA Considering Playing Games at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando
The NBA is reportedly considering the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando as a potential location for games when—or if—the league resumes the 2019-20 season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium and Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:
"One possible playing ground for NBA if finishing season becomes safe for league and players: Walt Disney World Resort property in Orlando, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. League has kept different scenarios in mind."
The NBA has been on hiatus since mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Reynolds reported on April 17, the league has been considering "bubble" scenarios that would bring teams to "a site or sites to finish a season in a way that theoretically could minimize exposure risks." Sites that have been considered include Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Walt Disney World.
In an April 16 column, Yahoo Sports' Keith Smith examined why Walt Disney World would be an ideal location to sequester the entire NBA and finish the season. For starters, he noted that the site has "an abundance of hotel rooms on their 39 square-mile property," which would provide plenty of housing for teams.
The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is also located in the area, which could serve as the "hub for all basketball activity." That complex has the HP Field House (which hosts the AdvoCare Invitational college basketball tournament each year), the Visa Center and The Arena. Those three locations would allow the league to host multiple games at once while also providing ample space for practice courts.
Plus, ESPN's WWSC is already equipped to broadcast events. And the NBA already has a relationship with Disney, given that many of their games are broadcast on ABC and ESPN, both owned by the company.
Granted, the league could go a different route, or cancel the season altogether. Over in Major League Baseball, a number of players have pushed back against the idea of being quarantined in one location, away from their families, in order to play again. NBA players could have similar gripes (though there would certainly be enough housing at Disney World to bring their families along).
But if the NBA goes the route of essentially quarantining the entire league in order to finish the season, Disney World presents a very compelling case to be the host site.