Chicago Bulls: Having full stadiums a ‘pipe dream’ for NBA next season

United Center, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
United Center, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bulls’ opportunity to have fans at the United Center next season may be hanging in limbo amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A very hot topic of discussion going on around the NBA landscape right now is what the league’s ownership and decision-makers will do heading into the 2020-21 season. Even if the NBA tried to start the season tomorrow (which obviously wouldn’t happen), it would still be on a late timeline compared to a usual regular season. So how long will teams, like the Chicago Bulls, in the “Delete Eight” that haven’t played in a meaningful game in a very long time have to wait until next season comes around?

The last game that the Bulls played in resulted in a home win way back on March 10 at the United Center over the divisional foe Cleveland Cavaliers. That led them to finish up with a record of 22-43, good for 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings, for the shortened 2019-20 campaign in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Moreover, according to a report from John Hollinger of The Athletic this weekend (paid content), any plan that the NBA devises likely won’t involve having anything close to full capacity arenas and venues next season. Amid a number of other alterations and on-the-fly adjustments that need to be made for the 2020-21 season, the NBA is likely to have very limited or no fans in the stands at home arenas.

Reportedly no matter what, the NBA is looking at a significant decrease in ticket sales revenue next season. They might be looking at a model more similar to what the MLB did playing in their home stadiums in front of no fans for most of the 2020 season.

The latest discussions from NBA executives appear to signal momentum toward a potential pre-Christmas start date for the 2020-21 season. But other changes to the next regular season could include no All-Star Game or All-Star Weekend, and about a two-week break in the middle of the regular season schedule.

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One possible sign of progress for the NBA could be at least playing in home arenas instead of in a bubble, like they did at Disney World to conclude last season. And maybe the NBA could work toward a model that at least has limited fan attendance in some home arenas next season if the COVID-19 outbreak shows signs of progress in being contained by tip-off of the next regular season.