NBA Eyes Late-July Return at Disney World

League in early talks to resume play at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex

The NBA is getting closer to a return, starting talks with The Walt Company about hosting the remainder of the season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

The NBA, which suspended its season in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, is eyeing a late-July return to the court. The ESPN complex is located within The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Disney is one of the NBA’s biggest TV partners with the NBA Finals broadcast on ABC. ESPN, which would normally be in the middle of airing the NBA playoffs, has been struggling without any live sports.

“The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season in late July at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing,” NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said. “Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place.”

The NBA had previously discussed using Las Vegas as another “bubble” site, where the league holds its annual Summer League. The resumed season would be without any fans in attendance.

The league was the first major U.S. pro sports outfit to halt its season amid the spread of the COVID-19 disease after the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert tested positive. Virtually all major professional leagues since have either suspended or delayed the start of their season, including the NHL and MLB.

In recent weeks, the UFC and NASCAR have returned, albeit without any spectators. Germany’s top soccer league Bundesliga resumed play last weekend, and on Saturday Spain’s La Liga received clearance from Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez to resume its season in early June.