There will be fans at NBA games this season.
Not full houses, many of them in suites well away from the players themselves, but there will be fans — and the ones near the court will need to have had a recent coronavirus test.
The NBA sent a memo to teams detailing the protocols for teams allowed to have fans at games (right now, not every team will be allowed to do so, it depends on local regulations). Shams Charania of The Athletic had the details.
Not coincidentally, courtside/near the court seats and suite tickets are the most expensive in the building and generate a disproportionate amount of revenue for teams. These are the seats teams are most eager to fill as the league attempts to limit financial losses this season. Expect more teams to adopt the “theatrical lighting” that highlights the court and darkens the rest of the arena, as the Knicks and Lakers do for home games.
How well this all works remains to be seen.
COVID-19 cases have spiked nationally, and hospitals in parts of the nation are starting to feel the brunt of that. Some areas of the nation are starting to tighten restrictions again, and it would be foolish to predict where different parts of the nation will be with the virus come Dec. 22 when the season tips off.
There will be fans in some arenas to start next season, and the league hopes in all arenas will have some fans as the season moves along. There will not be full buildings, not until the 2021-22 season, most likely, but some fans are better than none for the league.