UPDATE: The NBA announced on Wednesday night that it is suspending the 2019-20 season until further notice, following reports that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
Original story below:
The Golden State Warriors announced that due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, they will play upcoming home games without fans, making them the first major sports franchise in the country to do so.
On Thursday, the Warriors will host the Brooklyn Nets, and the game will be played without a live audience, according to the Los Angeles Times. This announcement came Wednesday after city officials said they were banning gatherings of 1,000 people or more over the next two weeks.
The team released a statement stating that fans would be prohibited from entering Thursday’s contest.
“Due to escalating concerns about the spread of COVID-19 and in consultation with the City and County of San Francisco, the Golden State Warriors announced today that tomorrow night’s game vs. the Brooklyn Nets at Chase Center will be played without fans.”
Those with tickets to the game will receive a full refund but this will impact more than sporting events at the Chase Center. All concerts and other events scheduled through March 21 were canceled as well, including concert performances by Tame Impala, Post Malone, and Bell Biv DeVoe & Friends.
After Thursday’s game, the Warriors are on a five-game road trip and their next home contest is March 25 against the Atlanta Hawks. Team president Rick Welts said he was in contact with the NBA all morning and told CBS San Francisco that more teams could be taking similar measures.
“The NBA agreed the best way forward for us was to play tomorrow night’s game without fans,” he said.
According to Welts, the league scheduled a call with all 30 NBA teams and the Warriors are only the first team to disallow fans. He expects other organizations to follow suit “in the not-too-distant future.”
Head coach Steve Kerr spoke to CBS San Francisco and said he and the team are still trying to wrap their heads around the situation, which has evolved quickly. The coaching staff addressed players during a Wednesday morning meeting and not many words were said.
“Everybody is just trying to soak it all in,” Kerr told the outlet. “There wasn’t a whole lot of discussion.”
Shortly after the Warriors made their announcement, the San Francisco Giants confirmed the cancellation of a spring training game against the Oakland Athletics. The team did not address the home opener scheduled for April 3.
As reported by The Inquisitr, LeBron James said last week that he would not play if fans could not attend games. James described himself as an entertainer and said an empty arena would make him less motivated.