The NBA has made no secret that it wants fans at games next season, and according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the league plans to “have arena suites open to fans at 25-to-50 percent capacity for 2020-21 season tipoff.”
The NBA has somewhat of a unique challenge when it comes to fans, as their indoor arenas likely put fans at higher risk of spreading and contracting COVID than fans in open-air NFL stadiums. But NBA commissioner Adam Silver says that he believes that rapid testing could make having fans a “realistic” possibility.
“As a league, even since mid-March when we shut down, we have been intensively researching and testing all sorts of testing in the public sector and private sector,” Silver said last month. “There have been significant advancements in rapid testing since the onset of COVID-19. We’re fairly optimistic that the market will generate more and better forms of faster testing.”
A big part of whether or not having fans at games for the start of the season is possible will depend on when the season is actually starting. Currently, the NBA is pushing for a late December start, but some players have pushed back against this early start, arguing it’s too short of an offseason for teams that played in the Orlando bubble. Still, it’s believed the NBA will tip off in time for Christmas.