Report: NBA Team Investing in Research on How to 'Lower Game-Night Risks'

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 16, 2020

Fans wait for an announcement on the status of an an NBA basketball game between Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Kyle Phillips)
Kyle Phillips/Associated Press

As the NBA continues to explore ways to potentially resume the season, one team is taking steps to try to lower health risks that would allow fans back into stands.

Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, one team has invested in research that will show "how requiring fans to wear masks and limiting attendance of those in vulnerable age groups and with preexisting conditions could lower game-night risks to something closer to the flu than COVID-19."

Wojnarowski noted the NBA and team owners discussed the topic of having fans in arenas next season during Tuesday's Board of Governors call.

One idea the league is studying is limiting arenas to 15-20 percent capacity, with most teams looking at the possibility of putting fans in premium seating arrangements to maintain social distancing if necessary by the time the 2020-21 season begins.

"It sucks, but it just may be our reality for a while," Commissioner Adam Silver said to players on a call this week. "It may be that ... there'll be a point we can bring a portion of our fans back where they sit every other seat or every third seat."

These scenarios are being discussed as the NBA continues to explore possible ideas for a return. Silver reportedly told players in a call May 8 that fans wouldn't be allowed in the stands if this season resumes, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

Wojnarowski previously reported the start of the 2020-21 season could be moved back to December. The league has already postponed the draft lottery and scouting combine, though the 2020 NBA draft is still scheduled for June 25 for now.

The NBA suspended the 2019-20 season March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. There remains no timetable for a restart of games.