The NBA has suspended all games since March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The “at-least 30 days” suspension has been extended and almost 80 days later, there is still no end in sight. On Saturday, the NBA released a statement saying that it’s in talks with Disney to resume the season in the ESPN Complex in Orlando by late July.
This is the first time since the suspension announcement that the NBA has given a timeline on when the season will resume playing games.
According to CNBC, in the NBA’s “bubble experiment” scenario, the league plans to send players, staff, coaches, trainers, and their families to stay in a single location where they will be in isolation from the rest of the world until the season is concluded. Additional personnel such as media, security and technical people to broadcast the games will also be included in the bubble.
To ensure the safety of the league and everyone as a whole, all the people in the bubble will be in isolation until the season is finished and a champion is crowned. Teams will eat, sleep, train, and play NBA games in one location. Nobody is allowed to go in or out, and official games will be broadcasted by networks with existing partnership contracts.
The Disney ESPN complex in Orlando is the favorite for the bubble experiment. The MGM complex in the Las Vegas strip is also an alternative site that the league is looking into.
The NBA will need large quantities of COVID-19 testing kits as part of the bubble experiment. Everyone, families included, will need to be tested and isolated before entering the “bubble” environment. The league is also working with health officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines and medical protocols to ensure the safety and integrity of the bubble.
The NBA has not made any official announcement on either the bubble experiment, it’s locations, or when the season will restart. The statement is simply to inform NBA teams and fans of the possibility that basketball games may resume sometime in late July using such a method. But nothing is set in stone, at least, not yet.