According to reports, the NBA is locked-in on using the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando as their centralized location upon returning to play. The league has set a preliminary return date of July 31st and is expected to begin finalizing the details with Disney and their players in the coming weeks.
Walt Disney Resort’s Wide World of Sports Complex would be the main location used. All in all, Disney World has over 10 courts where the NBA can hold games or practices.
The HP Field House is the best facility available to the NBA. It’s hosted multiple nationally televised college basketball games over the years, giving it both the professional look and pedigree the league requires. It can be broken off into sections to hold four courts or opened up to have one more spacious and aesthetically pleasing court. The league would likely favor the latter, but could opt for the four court option in earlier rounds if necessary.
The VISA Center is another option. It can be set up to have six full-sized courts for the league to use. It would likely be a better option for teams to practice than it would for games to be played. There has also been talk of transforming “The Arena” into courts for the league to use, but the building is traditionally used to host cheerleading tournaments and other non-basketball related events.
We will likely see playoff games spread out throughout the day from early afternoon to late evening to enable the NBA to get a significant amount of games in within a short time span. It will resemble something closer to NBA Summer League games or AAU games with players of opposing teams waiting on the sideline for a game preceding their own to finish before taking the court.
The NBA playoffs typically last two months, but the league will likely want to do everything possible to reduce that period of time in order to enable them to start next season as soon as possible. This will mean minimizing off days (eliminating the rare back-to-back off days within a series) and potentially adding a few back-to-back games in the earlier rounds. With the elimination of travel and the understandable challenges presented to the league by the pandemic, players may be more accepting of back-to-backs in the postseason than they otherwise would be. The league could structure it so that teams on back-to-backs have noon starts on the first day and late starts on the second day.
Walt Disney Resort also has over 30,000 hotel rooms, so accommodating all the necessary personnel the league requires shouldn’t be an issue. Financial compensation for the use of the resort and plans for the resort to reopen after the conclusion of the NBA’s season have not been made public.
Photo: (ESPN Wide World of Sports)