Disney World Reportedly Has Begun Renovations To Host NBA, MLS


May 20, 2020

During shelter in place regulations, many people across the country finally have found the time to redecorate and update their homes.

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. apparently has been doing the same.

In hopes of potentially hosting the returns of the NBA and Major League Soccer seasons, NBA writer Keith Smith of Yahoo! Sports reported Wednesday the resort already has begun renovations to its campus.

“Walt Disney World has begun the early stages of re-working some of their hotel spaces for housing the NBA and their needs,” Smith tweeted. “The (ESPN) Wide World of Sports Complex has also had some work done in anticipation of hosting the NBA and possibly MLS, per Disney sources.”

About a month ago, Smith, who formerly worked at Disney World, proposed the idea to finish the NBA season at the resort because of its existing infrastructure and the ability to close the campus off to quarantine players, coaches and staff. Since then, it’s emerged as the clear favorite as the NBA attempts to have games come back by mid-July.

Smith reports Disney is confident they’ll be hosting the league, in whatever capacity it returns, but nothing is concrete.

“Finishing the season at Disney isn’t a done deal,” an NBA source told Smith. “Finishing the season at Disney isn’t a done deal. But the fact that it is a private property and controlling access can be done far easier than other proposed sites is something we consider to be heavily in Disney’s favor. That’s very important.”

Meanwhile, as the MLS allowed players to returned to facilities for individual workouts last week, it also proposed Orlando as a good place to resume training June 1 before rolling out with a tournament for all 26 teams.

That raises the question, is it safe to have both leagues resuming at the same time in the same “bubble” location?

Based on Smith’s knowledge and experience, not to mention how big the Disney World property is, he says yes.

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“(Disney) has well over 20 resorts on their property here in Florida, they have over 20,000 available hotel rooms to offer up to sports leagues as the property is currently shut down,” Smith said on Sportsnet 590 The Fan.

“The other piece is they have the sports facilities. ESPN’s World Wide of Sports complex has more than enough NBA level basketball courts for games, for practices, it’s all broadcast ready. On the soccer side, they have acres and acres of soccer fields.”

Smith notes the Disney campus is 39 square miles, about the size of San Francisco and twice as big as Manhattan, with 34 on-property resorts (28 of which are owned and operated by Disney). At the ESPN World Wide of Sports Center, three indoor venues and expansive fields sit on 220 acres, “fairly isolated from the arenas for NBA.”

It seems like the NBA is a bit further along than the MLS in terms of getting plans approved by their respective players associations, but it’s looking like the phrase “I’m going to Disney World” may now apply before a team wins a championship.

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