Why the NBA Wants to Restart Its Season at Disney World

The NBA is reportedly targeting a return to play on July 31

Why the NBA Wants to Restart Its Season at Disney World
The Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom theme park. (Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty)
LightRocket via Getty Images
By Evan Bleier / June 3, 2020 7:30 am

With the NBA reportedly targeting a return to play on July 31, the league has been in negotiations with the Walt Disney Company about using ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex in Florida as a potential host site for games for a month.

Featuring three arenas that would allow multiple games to be played at once and easily accessible via the 18 hotels at Disney World, the 20-acre complex has been vacant since mid-March and could provide a safe place for the league to restart its season. There is some precedent for basketball there, as the walled sports complex has twice hosted the Jr. NBA Global Championship.

Bob Chapek, Disney’s chief executive, told The New York Times that the complex has “turnkey” broadcasting capabilities that include an ultrahigh-speed fiber-optic connection to the network’s headquarters in Connecticut. Disney-owned ESPN is a top broadcast partner for the NBA and obviously has a strong interest in the league resuming its season as soon as possible.

Chapek said he was “very optimistic” about making a deal with the NBA and noted the complex definitely has the capacity to serve as a host site for the league.

It is a deal Disney likely wants to get done just as badly as the NBA because it would mean an influx of tens of millions of dollars. Also, as The Times points out, hosting the NBA would be a boon for Disney World when its four major theme parks reopen in mid-July.

“A deal with the NBA would give the resort a much-needed shot in the arm,” according to The Times. “It would put employees back to work, offer the invaluable marketing message that the property is safe to visit and generate facility fees and hotel spending.”

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