Celtics president Rich Gotham said he expects the stands to be empty when the 2020-2021 NBA season begins, but that he hopes fans will be able to return to TD Garden at some point during the next regular season.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to return with fans when it’s safe to do so,” Gotham said. “There are brighter days ahead [but] we’re taking it one day at a time.”
The NBA is scheduled to return to play on Dec. 22. Teams will play a 72-game schedule, 10 fewer than in a typical year. The regular season is tentatively scheduled to end on May 16, according to ESPN, with the playoffs running from May 22 to the end of July. The postseason will be wrapped up in time for the Tokyo Olympics.
Gotham said the team’s leadership is still discussing with state and city officials as well as Delaware North, the company that manages the TD Garden, about how best to reopen the games.
The NBA hasn’t set forth specific guidelines for in-person attendance at games, but the Athletic reports that the league hopes to open suites in arenas with limited capacity.
Sources: The NBA aims to have arena suites open to fans at 25-to-50 percent capacity for 2020-21 season tipoff, based on local regulations. An amount of fans — under protocols such as masks, social distancing and coronavirus testing — is a goal to start season.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 5, 2020
Still, Gotham remains hopeful that fans can start to return before the end of the regular season in May. They’ll likely see changes, though, such as everyone wearing masks and more touchless payments.
The Celtics announced a new sponsor on Tuesday: Vistaprint will replace GE on the team’s jerseys. The jersey sponsorship still pays off even with empty stands, Gotham said, because of how widely the games are televised.