The Golden State Warriors have presented a plan to state and local officials to reopen Chase Center at 50 percent capacity.
Joe Lacob said the Warriors are prepared to spend upward of $30 million to test every fan, Warriors employee and player with the most accurate form of COVID-19 testing for each home game or day they come to Chase Center.
“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,” said Lacob, who holds a master’s degree in public health from UCLA and built his fortune as a venture capitalist in biotechnology. “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.”
The plan hinges on the use of rapid PCR tests that can detect traces of the virus’ genetic material within 15 minutes and are more accurate than rapid antigen tests.
The NBA used the more accurate PCR tests as it completed its season in Orlando, Florida.
California has so far not approved fans in any capacity since the start of the pandemic.
“Let us prove the concept. Let us use our money, our resources, our 7-8 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.
“This [rapid PCR] test is orders of magnitude more accurate than the [rapid antigen] test at the [White House] Rose Garden event. This is the best you can do. A lot of people don’t even know these tests exist yet, and they are ramping them up.
“By springtime, the rapid PCR tests will be manufactured in amounts nearing 100,000 per day by some of these companies. But I’m trying to show the world, trying to show the sports world in particular, and California, a way to do this. A safe way to have people come to an event and be totally safe walking in that building. The numbers bear it out.”
The Warriors could lose $200 million on their bottom line if the 20-21 season is played without fans in attendance. An investment of $30 million on a comprehensive plan to reopen makes sense financially, but Lacob insists that’s not the only reason for the project.
“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.
“There are many, many thousands and thousands of people in the sports, entertainment businesses, not just basketball, that are out of work. They cannot put food on the table. They cannot provide for their kids. Their kids aren’t in school. They’ve got to take care of them. What are they going to do about child care?
“There’s so many reasons why we have to figure out ways, short of the vaccine being a cure all, to allow people to get back to work, allow people to work at our venues. There’s thousands of people, 500 Warrior employees and 1,500 on a game day, but beyond that, there’s all the vendors. There’s so many people that are relying on this and don’t have jobs.
“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.”