Last month, Sports Commentator and former Disney Cast Member Keith Smith proposed on Yahoo Sports that the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World would be the perfect place for the NBA to finish the remainder of its 2019-2020 season. Describing its “bubble-like” capability to provide both playing venues and lodging all within Disney property, Smith explained that Disney could also close off streets and deny access to certain areas as necessary to create a safe and enjoyable experience for all of those involved. With hospitals nearby , facilities already equipped for filming and broadcasting and a longstanding relationship with the NBA, Smith’s idea that The House of the Mouse would be the best location for the NBA to wrap up its 2019-20 play seemed like a no-brainer.
According to NBA sources known to Keith Smith, Walt Disney World is now re-imagining some of it resort hotel spaces to accommodate the arrival of the NBA. In addition, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is apparently undergoing changes in anticipation of hosting the NBA, as well as possibly Major League Baseball when it returns to play.
Yesterday, Smith posted on Instagram:
“I’m told from an NBA source: “Finishing the season at Disney isn’t a done deal. But the fact that it is a private property and controlling access can be done far easier than other proposed sites is something we consider to be heavily in Disney’s favor. That’s very important.“
Shams Chrania from The Athletic and Stadium, who also spoke back in April about the future home of the conclusion of the NBA’s 2019-2020 season, tweeted this on May 20:
“The NBA has Orlando/Disney World as a clear frontrunner for return-to-play site for resuming 2019-2020 season, sources tell me and @sam_amick. Orlando has gained significant seriousness among other cities such as Las Vegas.”
Reported to be in talks with the NBA recently, Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger has been providing insights into how Disney has handled its theme parks, theaters and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex during the COVID-19 outbreak.
All sources agree that a location choice will be made and announced very soon, as plans for NBA players to return to practice in June and the league to resume play in July require a quick and timely decision.