Coronavirus: Warriors to play games in empty arena after San Francisco bans crowds of 1,000 or more
The Warriors and Chase Center are not taking any chances with the coronavirus, but it's taking a massive toll financially
While there hasn't been any official word yet from the NBA over how the rest of the season will shake out with concerns over the coronavirus spreading across the country, the city of San Francisco is taking matters into its own hands. On Wednesday morning, the city announced that gatherings with crowds of 1,000 people or more will be banned, and the Warriors said they will comply with those orders.
In a statement, the Warriors said:
Due to escalating concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, and in consultation with the City and County of San Francisco, tomorrow night's game vs. the Brooklyn Nets at Chase Center will be played without fans. In addition, all events through March 21 will be cancelled or postponed at this time. Fans with tickets to Thursday and Saturday night's games will receive a refund in the amount paid. Guests who purchased tickets to a concert occurring at Chase Center during the impacted dates will be notified through the promoter directly to either receive a refund or exchange for a rescheduled show at Chase Center.
We will continue to monitor this evolving situation closely to determine next steps for future games and events. We appreciate the understanding and patience of our fans, guests and partners during this unprecedented time.
This decision for the Warriors to play in a closed arena comes on the heels of the city recommending the franchise to cancel games due to the number of people who attend, but it was more a suggestion then, whereas this is now an official order. In addition to home games played by either the Warriors or their G League affiliate being closed to fans, upcoming concerts that were supposed to be held at Chase Center will be postponed as well.
While sports leagues around the world have already taken to playing games without fans and media in attendance, or cancelling games altogether, the NBA has not taken those steps league-wide yet. However, a conference call is expected to happen some time Wednesday with team owners and execs where the league's Some potential ideas include playing without fans, moving games to cities where the coronavirus has not struck yet, or postponing games until further notice.
NBA spokesperson Mike Bass issued a statement to The Athletic's Shams Charania on behalf of the league regarding the Warriors playing in an empty arena and where they will go from there:
"In accordance with the directive of the city of San Francisco, the March 12 game between the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors at Chase Center will be played without spectators. We are closely monitoring developments to determine the appropriate course for future Warriors home games and will continue to work with local governments, the CDC and public health experts to protect the health of our fans, players, coaches and staff in NBA markets across the country."
The league has already, and implemented a rule in which media members must remain 6-to-8 feet away from players during interviews. Still, though, as new cases are reported on a daily basis the league will likely take additional measures in the coming days.
While addressing the media Wednesday afternoon regarding the new policy handed down by the city of San Francisco, Warriors general manager Bob Myers expressed empathy for the Chase Center employees who won't be able to work while this policy is in effect. When asked about the financial impact this will have on the franchise, team president Rick Welts said the loss could be "tens of millions of dollars."
For the Warriors, after Thursday's home game against Brooklyn, their next five games are on the road, with the next home game not taking place until March 25 against the Hawks. That gives them, and the NBA, some time to figure out where to go from there.
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