NBA arenas won’t be at full capacity anytime soon, but teams are hoping to get some amount of fans into their buildings for the start of the 2020/21 season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links).
As Charania explains, the exact restrictions on fan attendance will depend in large part on each NBA city’s local regulations, though the league would also have its own protocols in place related to mask-wearing and social distancing. Courtside seats, for instance, would have to be at least 10 or 12 feet away, sources tell Charania.
Within his preview of the coming offseason, ESPN’s Zach Lowe noted that Warriors officials asked the league on a recent conference call about whether it will be feasible to allow high-paying fans into luxury suites. And Golden State is far from the only team asking those sorts of questions, according to Lowe.
Those luxury suites should provide an avenue for the NBA to get more fans into buildings, per Charania, who says the league would like to have the suites at 25-to-50 percent capacity for the 2020/21 season. The league has estimated that playing the entire season in empty arenas could mean sacrificing about 40% of its usual annual revenue, but selling tickets for some seats and suites would allow teams to recoup at least a little of that lost revenue.
Of course, if a COVID-19 vaccine is approved and becomes widely available at some point in 2021, the NBA could potentially open up a more significant portion of its arenas. In the meantime, the league is expected to explore forms of rapid coronavirus testing as a possible screening method for fans.