The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Walt Disney World are reportedly close to a deal that would put all of its players into one on-site resort hotel as the league finishes out its regular season, Walt Disney World News Today reported.
The NBA was in the last few weeks of its regular season earlier this year just as the full gravity and seriousness of COVID-19 became known. The league made the decision to postpone its season until further notice and, after weeks of the pandemic dragging on, it became obvious that it would have to come up with an alternative plan for finishing out the campaign.
According to a companion WDW News Today report, one option the league is looking at is a modified re-start that would involve playing out the regular season for teams that were within six games of a playoff spot when operations were paused.
Specifically, the league had hoped to hold its resumed season in a comparatively short period of time — rather than stretched across weeks — with all of the games played in one neutral location without fans. This would be in order to limit the amount of exposure the players and support personnel have to each other and to the general public.
As it turns out, Walt Disney World is looking like the perfect place for whatever remains of the NBA season. The Central Florida mega-resort hosts the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which has the facilities that are necessary to host the tournament. And of course, the resort is home to thousands of hotel rooms — rooms which are currently empty, as the facility is closed until July — which could be used to house the players.
On Tuesday, Yahoo Sports NBA analyst Keith Smith tweeted that the league and Walt Disney World are close to approving a deal that would put the players in the Coronado Springs Resort.
“Per Walt Disney World sources, Disney and the NBA have agreed that Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is likely to be the primary host resort for the NBA when they resume the season. Sources say an agreement may be reached this week, which will allow preparations to move quickly,” he tweeted.
The “moderate” resort, as Walt Disney World calls it, is typically used for conventions, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no such events scheduled, nor are there any room reservations on the books through September. This makes the Mexican-themed resort hotel the perfect place for housing the people associated with an NBA tournament, per Megan Bresnan of WDW News Today.
The league and its players are tentatively scheduled to vote Thursday on what form the resumed 2019-20 season will take, and where it will be played.