We still don’t know if the NBA will be able to finish the 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Maybe some regular season games will be salvaged. Maybe we’ll jump straight to the playoffs. Maybe the season will be lost and basketball won’t even return this year. As the NBA continues to think about all possibilities, they are considering another new venue if it’s possible for the season to resume: Walt Disney World in Florida, as The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported.
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.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 29, 2020
This idea was first suggested by Yahoo Sports’ Keith Smith a couple of weeks ago. While many other sites — such as Las Vegas — have been mentioned as possible venues, Walt Disney World has several advantages, which Smith detailed. Smith has unique insight into the layout of the site and its benefits, as he worked for Walt Disney for nearly 20 years and spent most of his time working at Walt Disney World.
For one, Walt Disney World has plenty of food and drink establishments and accommodation to offer to players and staff with a host of hotels, including two which are right near the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (EWWS). This would be the ideal location for hosting games and practices. EWWS has the HP Field House at its disposal, which is already set up to host basketball games, as well as the Visa Center, which can be set up with six basketball courts. There is also The Arena, which isn’t typically used for basketball but can be set up to do just that, as Smith explained. All of these venues are also ready to host broadcasts.
Another key factor is that unlike other possible venues, Walt Disney World has the benefit of being a private property. This ensures all basketball activity, accommodation, and restaurants can be completely shut off from the public, establishing the kind of closed-off hub that would be needed to maximize the safety of NBA personnel.
Essentially, Walt Disney World makes a lot of sense (you can read Smith’s full case here).
All we can do is wait and see what happens for now, but if there’s any chance the 2019-20 season does return, the NBA may have found a good venue to use.