Disney World emerges as 'frontrunner' to stage remainder of NBA season
North American basketball’s NBA is strongly considering Disney World in Florida as a location to host games if the season resumes, it has been reported.
The league has identified the resort as a “clear frontrunner” to complete the 2019-20 campaign, with Orlando gaining “significant seriousness” among other cities such as Las Vegas, according to The Athletic.
The NBA season has been suspended since 11 March because of the coronavirus pandemic and commissioner Adam Silver said earlier this month that he wanted to make a decision within “two to four weeks” in regards to whether an attempt should be made to resume games.
Following a recent meeting between Silver and the NBA board of governors to address a number of concerns regarding how to proceed, the league has begun taking steps towards potentially finding a way to finish the season, with the owners understood to have a preference to play at a ‘bubble city’.
Other options such as multiple isolated facilities and jumping directly into an expanded postseason are also on the table.
A resort setting which would house all 30 NBA teams in a controlled setting was first mooted by Silver in March, just weeks after the NBA became the first major sports league to halt its season.
Before a decision is made on where games can be played, the league will have to permit players to return to practice and is believed to be ready to issue guidelines to teams in the coming weeks, according ESPN.
The US sports broadcaster reports that teams are expecting the NBA to issue guidelines around 1 June which will allow them to start recalling players who have left their markets as a first step towards a formal ramp-up for the season's resumption.
The franchises also expect a similar timeframe on when they will be allowed to move from individual workouts to group sessions with team personnel.
Citing league sources, ESPN said many NBA owners, executives and the National Basketball Players Association believe Silver will give the green-light for a return to play in June barring an unforeseen turn of events, with games expected to resume sometime before the end of July.
The NBA and NBPA are having regular discussions to work out the structure of a return.