Walt Disney World’s theme parks have been closed since March 15, 2020 and the hotels on Disney property closed down a few days later, once all the guests were able to arrange for transportation home. Much is being made of the reopening of some of the Disney Springs shopping area but there’s still no date announced for the opening of the parks or hotels.
With the parks closed, Disney announced during its earnings call that the theme parks division lost 1 billion dollars in revenue over the past three months. Over half of that, or 500 million dollars, was due to the U.S. theme parks being closed.
So while Disney doesn’t seem to be rushing to reopen their parks, they’re looking at ways to be creative so they can make back some of that money while helping another one of their companies at the same time.
Sharon and I aren’t sportsing people. We understand that others are going through withdrawal with no hockey, basketball, baseball or soccer on TV. To fill the void, ESPN, has been forced to show replays of classic games or coverage of Korean Baseball, professional cornhole or marble racing. Honestly, that’s ESPN going back to its roots but not the content expected from a premium cable channel that should be knee-deep in playoff seasons.
The NBA was approaching the playoffs, the most-watched part of the season, when everything was shut down on March 11 after a player tested positive for coronavirus.
Obviously, the previous system of teams flying all around the continent playing in stadiums full of fans no longer works in this environment. But what if there was a place where all the teams were able to stay, practice and play out the rest of the season? The games could be televised, even if there weren’t any fans allowed. People are so hungry for any type of sports, seeing Lebron play again would bring back a sense of normalcy.
Walt Disney World is home to the Wide World of Sports, a 220 acre complex with multiple indoor venues. Plenty of space to hold basketball games and to hold practice sessions for multiple teams. The HP Field House is over 70,000 square feet and can seat 5,000 people. The venue would typically be full of high school kids there for travel tournaments but all of those are canceled.
The location also has weight rooms and locker rooms. Maybe not NBA quality but better than you’d find almost anywhere else.
There’s also The Arena, which can fit up to four full-size basketball courts. In all, it would be possible to play multiple games at once and even two a day in both arenas. If there’s no crowd, you could even play two games at once.
There are also 36,000 hotel rooms on Disney property that are currently sitting empty. Sure, some people have made reservations for when the parks will reopen but I’m sure Disney could take a property like Coronado Springs and close it to just be for the NBA teams and their staff. I’m sure there aren’t any conventions that are going to be using the space any time soon. If people have reservations, they could be accommodated at one of the other hotels.
Doing this would let Disney fill up Wide World of Sports which is sitting empty, fill empty hotel rooms while giving them content for ESPN which they desperately need.
What does the NBA have to say?
“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,” 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.”
If the NBA wants to finish the season and Disney can give them a way to do it, then I see this plan having a good chance of actually happening.
Would it mean there will be fans in the stands for the games? Who knows? But way more people watch games on TV than in person anyway. If I can host a Zoom call from the Kitchen Kabaret set, then I bet Disney can CGI some fans into the stadium seats. 🙂
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary