Moving quickly to take advantage of another month of national lockdown for the COVID-19 virus, the NBA announced today an unprecedented plan to restart their season with nearly continuous playoff games on TV throughout April. With no other competitive sports and hundreds of millions of bored people stuck at home, TV ratings are expected to set an all-time record.
The plan involves declaring the regular season over early and bringing the 16 playoff teams to Houston to play TV-only, no-crowd games at the Toyota Center. A “safe zone” will be established downtown involving the Toyota Center, GRB convention center, Marriott Marquis and Hilton Americas hotels. They will receive a thorough deep-cleaning and then be strictly quarantined allowing only essential personnel, media, players and their families after passing COVID-19 tests. The GRB convention center will be used for temporary practice courts.
Games will be scheduled back-to-back throughout the days with up to four games a day, with eastern conference games early and western conference games later to take advantage of time zone differences. Since everyone is home anyway, games don’t have to just be in the evening hours to draw an audience – essentially every day will be scheduled like a weekend day with a combination of afternoon and evening games.
The NBA considered normal playoff travel schedules to crowd-less home arenas, but ultimately determined the logistics were too complex to guarantee player and personnel safety. Since the games are TV-only anyway, it just made more sense to hold the games in a single well-controlled location, with the added benefit of not losing game days to travel. Different locations were considered, but ultimately Houston was selected because it could offer the easiest, most-compact safe zone with an official NBA arena, top-quality hotels, and practice courts. The central time zone is also helpful in scheduling games that work well for both the east and west coast TV markets.
When briefed on the plans, Houston officials had serious concerns, but these were alleviated when the NBA assured them they would bring their own toilet paper.
Hope you enjoyed this year’s April Fools post ;-D
(although I wish this one was real!)
Here are previous years if you missed ’em and would like a chuckle:
- 2019: Mayor Turner and firefighters agree to compromise on Prop B
- 2018: Mayor unveils compliant housing models for new post-Harvey flood elevation regulations
- 2017: City bike plan expanded to include freeways
- 2016: TXDoT responds to Mayor Turner’s call to rethink urban transportation and freeways
- 2015: J.J. Watt running for Mayor of Houston
- 2014: HPD forming task force against ride services
- 2013: Astrodome to be restored to host 2017 Super Bowl LI
- 2012: Hobby to close, IAH turned over to United
- 2008: Neighborhood happy with new Ashby tower modifications
- 2007: Mayor expands historic preservation, air pollution initiatives
- 2006: Metro settles Universities/Westpark/Richmond rail alignment
- 2005: Houston embraces “New Weather Urbanism”
This piece first appeared on Houston Strategies Blogspot
Tory Gattis is a Founding Senior Fellow with the Center for Opportunity Urbanism and co-authored the original study with noted urbanist Joel Kotkin and others, creating a city philosophy around upward social mobility for all citizens as an alternative to the popular smart growth, new urbanism, and creative class movements. He is also an editor of the Houston Strategies blog.