In fact, the franchise recently unveiled a $30 million COVID-19 plan that could save the NBA by bringing fans back in the stands.
COVID-19 forced the NBA to play without fans in the stands
COVID-19 completely changed the sports world in 2020. From an NBA perspective, the pandemic forced the league to put its season on pause. Because of social distancing measures, many teams could no longer allow fans to attend games.
Ultimately, the league decided to resume its season in Orlando. But that solution did not include live fans at games. Instead, the world got introduced to the “virtual fan” concept.
“I am getting more and more used to being out there. It’s a very weird dynamic. I haven’t played in an empty gym in a very, very long time,” James said. “It’s been a very long time since no one has been watching me play the game. I’m just trying to find that rhythm and lock in.”
Obviously, LeBron and the Lakers managed to do just fine without fans in the stands. But the Warriors have an interesting (and expensive) plan that could help bring fans back to NBA games in short order.
The Warriors unveil $30 million plan to bring their fans back
According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, Golden State recently presented a plan to state and local officials to reopen the arena at 50% capacity for the upcoming season.
And the Warriors are prepared to pay a premium price to make that happen.
Owner Joe Jacob, who holds a master’s degree in public health from UCLA, said the team has prepared to spend up to $30 million to test every fan, Warriors employee, and player with the most accurate form of COVID-19 testing for each home game or day they come to Chase Center.
“I not only want to get this done and show the world how we can do it now, but I’m willing to spend the money to it,” he explained.
For Lacob, the measure means more than just getting his own fans back in the stands. The man who built his fortune as a venture capitalist in biotechnology offered a blunt assessment of the whole “no fans in the stands” dilemma.
“This is a serious, serious problem. It cannot go on for multiple years,” Lacob said. “Because if this were to go on for several years, the NBA is no more.”
The Warriors’ plan involves the use of rapid PCR tests, which can detect traces of COVID-19’s genetic material within 15 minutes. The team will also require everyone who enters Chase Center to wear a mask and follow social distancing protocols.
If the plan gets approved and the Warriors can prove that it works, that could be the key to saving the NBA. Other teams can implement similar protocols in order to get fans back in the stands, which obviously brings in much-needed revenue. Because as Lacob said, the trend of not having fans in attendance cannot continue in order for the league to survive.
Can Golden State bounce back from one of the worst seasons in franchise history?
Warriors fans certainly didn’t have much to cheer about last season. After all, Golden State posted a 15-50 record and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
But with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson finally healthy, the Warriors should bounce back. The former played just five games due to a hand injury. The latter missed the entire season while recovering from a torn ACL.
Golden State’s sharpshooting duo will also get a big boost from whoever the team selects with the No. 2 pick. Of course, that’s assuming the Warriors don’t trade the selection to land an established player.
Either way, they should enjoy a major turnaround with the return of their two biggest stars. Let’s see if the battle-tested trio of Curry, Thompson, and Draymond Green can lead the Warriors on another title run in the post-Kevin Durant era.