NBA commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols ahead of tonight’s draft lottery that he now expects the league’s previously-estimated December 1 start date for the 2020/21 regular season to be pushed back, per Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
In explaining his thinking, Silver indicated that he would prefer to have fans be able to attend games in person next season.
“I think our No. 1 goal is to get fans back in our arenas,” he told Nichols. “So my sense is, in working with the [National Basketball] Players Association, if we could push back even a little longer and increase the likelihood of having fans in arenas, that’s what we would be targeting.”
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has prevented gatherings of large crowds, with fan attendance for major concerts, indoor movie theaters, and sporting events having been widely postponed until 2021. The United States saw 43,798 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 yesterday.
Until an effective vaccine is widely available to the public, it may be difficult to allow fans inside basketball arenas, though Silver remains hopeful that the anticipated development fast-response coronavirus tests may soon make in-arena attendance more feasible.
Crowd attendance makes up a significant portion of the league’s seasonal revenue. Per the Windhorst piece, Silver accredits approximately 40% of NBA revenue to fans filling arenas.