The Warriors are hoping to receive approval from local and state officials – and from the NBA – to reopen Chase Center at 50% capacity for the 2020/21 season, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
As Shelburne explains, the Warriors have been working since March on a plan – internally called “Operation DubNation” – which involves testing fans for COVID-19 using rapid PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests that return results within 15 minutes and are believed to be about 99% accurate.
The NBA used PCR tests during its restart this summer, but had to wait overnight for the results of those tests. The rapid PCR tests have only emerged in recent months, with three companies receiving FDA approval and ramping up their production to make them more widely available, per Shelburne. The rapid tests are significantly more expensive, but the Warriors are prepared to dedicate $30MM to testing fans, employees, and players this season, according to ESPN.
The Warriors’ proposed plan would call for fans to wear masks and engage in social distancing. The team would also use a “state-of-the-art” air filtration system that’s capable of purging and replacing the building’s air supply up to four times in an hour, says Shelburne.
“I not only want to get this done and show the world how we can do it now, I’m willing to spend the money to do it,” Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob said. “This is a serious, serious problem. It cannot go on for multiple years … because if this were to go on for several years, the NBA is no more.
“You cannot sustain this league with no fans. You can do it for a year. We’ll all get by for a year. But suppose we’re in this situation next year. Now we’re talking some serious, serious financial damage to a lot of people.”
Even if the Warriors are willing to spend the money necessary to conduct rapid coronavirus testing for fans, the most significant roadblock will be getting approval from government officials. As Shelburne notes, California hasn’t approved fans for sporting events in any capacity during the pandemic, and San Francisco recently reinstituted several protocols to curb the spread of the virus. Lacob is hoping to receive approval once state and local officials hear the details of the Warriors’ plan and the science behind it.
“Let us prove the concept. Let us use our money, our resources, our seven-eight months of work, our expertise to prove the concept,” Lacob said. “That’s what I’m trying to get the state, the city and the government to entertain.
“… By springtime, the rapid PCR tests will be manufactured in amounts nearing 100,000 per day by some of these companies. But I’m trying to show the world, trying to show the sports world in particular, and California, a way to do this. A safe way to have people come to an event and be totally safe walking in that building. The numbers bear it out.”