Here’s what we know about the 2020-21 NBA season: it will start on Dec. 22.
And here’s what we don’t know about the 2020-21 NBA season: if there will be fans, and if there are, in what capacity.
But the Golden State Warriors are, not surprisingly, working very hard to try and get fans into Chase Center. According to a report from Ron Kroichick and Trisha Thadani of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Warriors have been working for months on a plan to test every fan that comes to the arena for the coronavirus, potentially paving the way for a capacity of about 9,000 spectators at home games.
The Warriors have built their plan with the consult of George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology at UCSF. According to Rutherford, the plan would involve using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests rather than antigen tests, due to their accuracy. Season ticket holders would be sent at-home PCR tests, while other fans could take rapid tests at the admissions gate.
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, co-chairman Joe Lacob and the rest of the organization are preparing to spend more than $30 million on the plan, though it presumably would pay for itself if it works. Shelburne, who notes that the plan is called “Operation DubNation,” quotes Lacob as saying, “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. 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.”
It shouldn’t be surprising at all that the Warriors are at the center of a potentially groundbreaking plan. It’s a very Lacob move, both to prioritize getting fans to the games, and to have a desire to prove to the rest of the league that Golden State can do something that was dismissed as impossible.
That said, the Warriors still face a lot of obstacles in getting Operation DubNation in action. San Francisco Mayor London Breed has, thankfully, been very strict with coronavirus protocol. In order for a plan like this to go through, Breed would have to sign off on it, as would California Governor Gavin Newsom.
It’s a monumental first step, but there are still many more steps to go.