LOS ANGELES • Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob is willing to pay the price to bring fans to Chase Centre during the 2020-21 National Basketball Association (NBA) regular season.
His plan to allow fans in the new San Francisco home arena of the Warriors includes rapid testing at a cost of about US$30 million (S$40.4 million). The plan calls for the new indoor facility to operate at 50 per cent capacity for 2020-21.
State and local officials heard Lacob’s pitch before the current 14-day travel shutdown was announced on Thursday night.
The plan, created in March when the NBA shut down due to Covid-19, is internally known as “Operation Dub Nation”.
The NBA is permitting teams to discuss attendance plans and protocol with their state and local officials, but no final decision at the league level on attendance policies has been fully approved.
The NBA lost more than US$1 billion in revenue last season without fans for the final weeks of the regular season and play-offs, held in the”bubble” near Orlando.
“We’re going to lose a lot of money,” Lacob told Bay Area News Group. “But it’s the right thing to do.”
Lacob, a UCLA masters graduate in public health (epidemiology), said every player, employee and fan would be tested using the most accurate test on the market.
“I not only want to get this done and show the world how we can do it now, I’m willing to spend the money to do it,” the venture capitalist said in an ESPN interview.
“You cannot sustain this league with no fans. You can do it for a year. We’ll all get by for a year. But suppose we’re in this situation next year. Now we’re talking some serious, serious financial damage to a lot of people.”
Rapid PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, tests or equivalent tests measure the genetic material of the virus.
Critics pointed to ethical issues, including claiming large numbers of rapid tests that could otherwise go to at-risk segments of the population, nursing homes, healthcare workers and more.
The NBA and MLB (Major League Baseball) used rapid testing during the 2020 seasons, but often results were only available overnight.
Lacob said the latest test produces “accurate results within 15 minutes”. California has not approved fan attendance at any capacity but the 64-year-old believes his own background and expertise can be the difference in getting approval on all fronts.
“Let us prove the concept. Let us use our money, our resources, our seven-eight months of work, our expertise to prove the concept,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to get the state, the city and the government to entertain.”