Warriors plans to have fans given thumbs down

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Golden State Warriors-Chase Center spent millions on covid testing Image: NBA

San Francisco (US) officials recently nixed down the American professional basketball team Golden State Warriors plan to have fans at Chase Center for the 2020-21 seasons citing public health risks as the United States continue to face the COVID-19 wrath.

A spokesman for the San Francisco Mayor, London Breed, Jeff Cretan released a statement saying the county will continue to work with the Warriors on bringing fans back to Chase Center in the future.

“We are in a difficult time right now with COVID cases surging, and our focus is on keeping the public safe and healthy so that we can get through this pandemic and support our long-term economic recovery,” the statement added.

The above decision means that the Golden State Warriors must brace for playing without cheers or boos from spectators.

Though City officials rejected Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob’s ambitious plan to test more than 9,000 fans for coronavirus at every home game, they have remained in contact with the Warriors and will consider amending their restrictions if something changes. These days, as San Francisco deals with a lockdown, Golden State Warriors has little choice other than to embrace reality and provide its own energy.

“It’s one of those things where you don’t really know how to prepare for it because you’ve never really dealt with it before. Outside of scrimmaging at an empty Chase, what can you do?” Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr stated.

Paying customers have been a constant in athletes’ careers. Though most NBA teams were acquainted without fans at the recent Orlando bubble, the Warriors – one among the eight franchises not invited there – have yet to experience this new reality in person.

The Warriors are only allowing essential personnel and staffers at home games, all of whom must be tested regularly. That’s also true for the select number of media members permitted at Chase Center.

Warriors’ ‘war’ cry against COVID

Earlier, the Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob had revealed their $30 million plan that would have allowed for 50 percent capacity, or about 9,000 fans, at Chase Center amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

But, even before the plan could be unveiled, Mayor Breed and public health officials had made the county one of the first in the Bay Area to begin tightening restrictions because of a spike in COVID-19 numbers.

Lacob had said that the National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise is ready to lighten its wallet – spend more than US$30 million – on testing as part of plans to reopen their Chase Center home at 50 percent capacity.

The Golden State Warriors are an American professional basketball team based in San Francisco (US). The Warriors compete in the National Basketball Association as a member of the league’s Western Conference Pacific Division.

Chase Center is an indoor arena in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco, California. The building is the home venue for the Golden State Warriors of the NBA and occasionally for San Francisco Dons men’s basketball.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is an American men’s professional basketball league. It is composed of 30 teams (29 in the United States and 1 in Canada) and is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. It is the premier men’s professional basketball league in the world.

Speaking to mediapersons, Lacob said that the measures, which the Warriors wanted to bring into effect in time for the new abbreviated NBA season to start on December 22nd, would have seen every fan, player and staff tested for each home game or on the day they come to Chase Center. The Warriors wanted to leave nothing to chance.

Lacob informed that the plan has been in development since the NBA’s initial shutdown back in March when COVID-19 let hell loose on the world. Crucial to these efforts would have been the use of rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that can detect traces of COVID-19 in nasal or throat swabs within 15 minutes.

While the NBA employed the PCR tests method when it returned to action and completed its 2019-20 campaign, the bulk of results came back overnight due to samples being tested in a nearby lab. The Warriors are keen to expedite the return of results, but the tests burn a hole in the pocket than the rapid antigen tests and are not easily available.

Though the above test pinches the pocket, Lacob is pinning his hopes on PCR tests, especially since they are close to 99 percent accurate in detecting coronavirus in people even before they contract the infection. In comparison, media reports stated that rapid antigen tests could miss 30 to 50 percent of people who have enough viral loads to be infectious.

Apart from testing, the Warriors scheme of things was to ensure each individual who enters Chase Center wear a face covering and maintain strict social distancing. The franchise is also set to utilize a futuristic filtration system in the future once fans are allowed which will be able to use 100 percent outside air or purge the arena’s air supply and replace it four times in an hour if necessary.

The Warriors did not play the final 17 games on their schedule last season due to the coronavirus bane, which Lacob told mediapersons cost the team US$50 million in revenue. He added that playing the entirety of the 2020-21 campaign sans fans could see the franchise lose another US$400 million in revenue and US$200 million on the balance sheet.

He further told mediapersons that he was ready to loosen the purse strings to ensure full shield for spectators against COVID-19 when they come to attend fixtures in Chase Center in the future, “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. This is a serious, serious problem. It cannot go on for multiple years … because if this were to go on for several years, the NBA is no more.”

Lacob lamented, “You cannot sustain this league without fans. You can do it for a year. We’ll all get by for a year. But suppose we are in this situation next year. Now we are talking some serious, serious financial damage to a lot of people.”

The State of California is not permitting fans in sports arenas at any capacity, while the City of San Francisco has reversed its decision to reopen venues like gyms and cinemas as the US is still caught in the COVID-19 maelstrom.

Hoping against hope

Lacob is optimistic that his plan will finally get the nod of City and State public health officials – “Let us prove the concept. Let us use our money, our resources, our seven to eight months of work, our expertise to prove the concept. That’s what I’m trying to get the State, the City and the Government to entertain.”

He added, “By Spring time, the rapid PCR tests will be manufactured in amounts nearing 100,000 per day by some of these companies. But I’m trying to show the world, trying to show the sports world in particular, and California, a way to do this. A safe way to have people come to an event and be totally safe walking in that building. The numbers bear it out.”

For now, the Warriors have to settle for playing without fans at Chase Center. They are hoping this is a temporary situation. If San Francisco has a significant drop in coronavirus cases or a vaccine becomes widely available, Golden State Warriors will push hard to have fans back at Chase Center.

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