Orlando has emerged as the favorite to host NBA games without fans whenever play resumes, according to multiple reports.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and many other Central Florida officials have been touting ESPN Wide World of Sports on Disney World property as an ideal venue to host games. The praise the sports complex’s ability to house teams near practice areas and game venues on private property would help provide ideal safety conditions.
Support for the NBA’s use of the venue is growing.
“The NBA has Orlando/Disney World as a clear frontrunner for return-to-play site for resuming 2019-20 season, sources tell me and (reporter Sam Amick,” Stadium and The Athletic reporter Shams Charania posted on Twitter. “Orlando has gained significant seriousness among other cites such as Las Vegas.”
Keith Smith, a Yahoo Sports reporter who previously worked at Disney World, posted on Twitter, “Sources from Walt Disney World tell me: ‘We are confident we’ll be hosting the NBA in some fashion. It may not be the entire league, but we believe the NBA will be here to at least finish part of their season. Still hurdles to cross, but we are preparing as if that is the case.’"
Major League Soccer also has been working toward potentially resuming play in Orlando.
With indoor and outdoor venues spread across more than 220 acres, Wide World of Sports would be able to host the NBA and MLS at the same time while maintaining social distancing. All the venues have lighting and infrastructure needed to easily broadcast games.
MLS could also use nearby ChampionsGate resort and Orlando City’s newly renovated training facility in Kissimmee for additional fields if the league needed more than the 17 multi-purpose fields available at the complex.
The NBA, meanwhile, could get help from the Orlando Magic, using Amway Center’s main court and the team’s practice facility that previously hosted NBA Summer League games.
The Lions have a partnership with Orlando Health, while the Magic have a partnership with AdventHealth, making communication with local healthcare providers easier.
NBA and MLS officials are already very familiar with amenities available and isolation possible at Wide World of Sports.
The Jr. NBA Tournament has been held at Wide World of Sports multiple times, while MLS hosted many of its All-Star Game festivities in on Wide World of Sports in 2019.