MGM Resorts International has proposed to the National Basketball Association /NBA/ to finish its regular season and subsequent play-off games in Las Vegas, Nevada, offering its Mandalay Bay resort as the central hub. The league has its season suspended since March 11 after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus.
MGM Provides the Helping Hand
The plan put forward by MGM includes turning the convention centre into 24 courts and have 5 of them equipped with TV cameras for broadcasting. It is no secret that one of the biggest concerns the NBA has related to the unfinished season is the television contract that generates around $3 billion annually and its objective is to fulfill as bigger portion of it as possible. Gate receipt for the league has always been a secondary stream of revenue.
The Mandalay Bay has capacity and connectivity to provide shelter for the players and essential staff members, including their families. Its 4,700 rooms over 3 connected hotels will serve as the central hub in the plan, with caterers and housekeepers residing in the Luxor, connected through an enclosed walkaway.
The Bubble Concept
Completing the season will not be an easy task to achieve, but stationing all teams in one location has always seemed to be the most appropriate precondition, as it will eliminate travel and the subsequent risks that arise from it, as well as concerns stemming from different re-opening phases in the different states.
The NBA has been considering the “bubble” concept for a while and Las Vegas seems to be the surest bet, if not the only one location capable of pulling it, MGM just looking to capitalize on the idea. On paper, it looks great, but there are far too many variables in the league’s equation it has to take into consideration within a constraint amount of time if the 2019-2020 season is to complete.
Tests, Formats, Essential Staff
Everything starts with testing and the need for a fast, simple and reliable test, in quantities to enable regular testing of everyone within the bubble. There is another concern, too, as the NBA does not need to face a public backlash for using extensive amounts of tests when these are painfully needed elsewhere, but not available. And how to proceed with false positive and false negative results is also an issue that seems to have no easy solution.
The next variable is the duration of this experiment, depending on what format the NBA will choose to finish the season. In a hypothetical 8-games-per-day play scenario, using 2 courts to host concurrent games, regular season will need 33 days, the full round of playoffs another 55 days, in total roughly 3 months.
Last, but not least comes the question of how many people will be needed within the bubble, and according to team and league personnel, referees, television producers and hotel general managers, about 1,500 people will be deemed essential to restart the league.
“There are so many layers that would have to come into play for [a bubble] to even happen. We would have to know exactly what that would look like. There’s a lot of hypotheticals out there.”Chris Paul, President, National Basketball Players Association
Las Vegas Has Competition
And MGM’s invitation to the NBA to come to Las Vegas in an attempt to bring back life to the Strip venues might not be the only offer, as Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida, is also gaining traction according to reports.
Whether Las Vegas is the league’s best bet to return to action still remains to be seen as for now it has no return-to-play plan and faces unprecedented amount of planning and organization while time is running out.