Warriors plan to spend $30M on COVID-19 testing for 50 percent capacity at Chase Center

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The Golden State Warriors and owner Joe Lacob are presenting a plan to open Chase Center at 50 percent capacity for the upcoming NBA season that includes $30 million in testing, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported.

It’s internally called “Operation DubNation” and the organization has been working on it since the league shut down on March 11. The Warriors were not in the NBA bubble at Disney World.

Warriors fan plan includes $30M for testing

The pitch to the state of California and local officials in San Francisco includes the most accurate form of COVID-19 testing for every fan, Warriors employee and player for each home game or visit to Chase Center. Lacob told ESPN the team is prepared to pay for it at a cost of up to $30 million.

They would use rapid PCR tests or the equivalent, a recent offering that turns around results in 15 minutes and are 99 percent accurate. They are far more expensive and less readily available than the more invasive, and slower, rapid antigen tests.

Those tests would be administered onside at Chase Center or at drive-up locations around the area. They must be done within 48 hours of the game.

Fans will need to wear a mask and social distance in the arena. The plan reportedly includes a state-of-the-art filtration system that can use 100 percent outside air or purge the indoor air supply and replace it four times in an hour.

Lacob: ‘NBA is no more’ if fan-less seasons continue

The Warriors could lose $400 million in revenue and $200 million on the bottom line without fans this seasons, Lacob said via ESPN.

“I not only want to get this done and show the world how we can do it now, I’m willing to spend the money to do it,” Lacob said. “This is a serious, serious problem. It cannot go on for multiple years ... because if this were to go on for several years, the NBA is no more.

“You cannot sustain this league with no fans. You can do it for a year. We’ll all get by for a year. But suppose we’re in this situation next year. Now we’re talking some serious, serious financial damage to a lot of people.”

Lacob, 64, holds a master’s degree in public health from UCLA and has a net worth of $1.2 billion, per Forbes. In 1987, he joined venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, where he built his fortune in biotechnology, per ESPN.

Warriors plan to be a blueprint for reopening

Joe Lacob at a Chase Center podium.
Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob plans to spent upward of $30 million on COVID-19 testing to get fans at Chase Center. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

But those losses are not the only reason why Lacob is pushing for the plan to go through.

“I want people to understand this is not the Warriors just trying to make more money,” he said. “Yes, we’re trying to get fans and get revenue, but I’m trying to set a standard. I’m trying to show the world how this can be done, safely.”

Lacob noted that there are thousands of people who work in the sports entertainment business who are currently out of work and struggling to put food on the table for their kids. “Short of the vaccine being a cure-all,” he said, the country needs to find a way to get people back to work safely.

“Someone needs to step up and show not only the sports world, but actually show the world how we can still resume some parts of normal life while we’re fighting this virus and waiting for the vaccine.”

Will California accept Warriors plan?

Most major league sports that are playing in home arenas, stadiums and ballparks are allowing local jurisdictions to determine the rules for attendance. In many parts of the country, there have been no fans allowed at games.

That includes California, where parts of the state are rolling back reopening guidelines as the COVID-19 pandemic hits records every day. The Los Angeles Lakers announced earlier in the week they would play the season without fans “until further notice.”

The number of new cases in the state, which reached 1 million total cases on Thursday, and the Bay Area have increased in recent weeks. Gov. Gavin Newsom spent an hour with team officials going over the plan, team president Rick Welts told ESPN, and San Francisco said it is in the process of reviewing it.

“Let us prove the concept. Let us use our money, our resources, our seven-eight months of work, our expertise to prove the concept,” Lacob said. “That’s what I’m trying to get the state, the city and the government to entertain.”

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