With Opening Night only 26 days away, many things are still uncertain. The regular season schedule has yet to be released and there’s no word on preseason games. Teams can play up to four of them between December 11 and 19, at least one in the team’s home venue.
Meanwhile, Barclays Center is making plans for a season that, management hopes, will include fans at some point … state, city and league restrictions permitting.
As Brian Lewis has reported, the arena is going to build at least two new entrances to help with ingress and egress, move the often crowded team store to a new larger location, renovate club spaces and install new x-ray machines at security check points.
And this week, Norman Oder of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Report took a tour of the arena’s entrance plaza and found other evidence of change around the arena. Kiosks with touch screens —and the hopeful “Be Ready” slogan— are being installed on the entrance plaza, replacing older “street furniture,” some of which were damaged during the George Floyd protests at the end of May.
And at the northeast corner of the arena, there’s the new residential tower, a 51-story building now nearing completion. Another tower, at 26 stories, has risen across the street from the southwest corner during the pandemic.
There are other aspects of the arena that indicate somewhat of a return to normal, like the return of advertising to the oculus, as Oder chronicled in a YouTube video…
The ad quoting activist Angela Davis remains above the subway entrance, the gift of an anonymous “partner.” The ad went up in early June. How long with it remain? No one is saying.
So, what are the plans for bringing back fans? They are by necessity uncertain if hopeful.
In his interview with Lewis at the beginning of the month, Nets and BSE Global CEO John Abbamondi laid out the organization’s strategy.
“We’re taking advantage of this time,” Abbamondi told The Post. “We’ve tried to be strategic … use this time to prepare ourselves for when we do bring fans back. We’re investing a lot right now to make the Barclays Center experience even better than it was…
“We have lots of plans. Those plans have served as a template, but we’ll adapt. I know we’ll be ready whenever the season starts. And we’ll do everything in our power to keep not only our players, but our fans healthy as we come back in some sense of normalcy as we wage this fight against the virus.”
And nine days ago, at a community Quality of Life meeting, Mandy Gutmann, Senior Vice President, Communications and Community Relations at BSE Global, said the hope —and plan— is to ultimately host fans at Nets games this season.
“We are planning to host [NBA] games this winter,” Gutmann said, per Oder. “We are following New York State guidelines to determine when fans will be allowed to return.”
As Brooklyn native and NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci has said of life in general, the virus sets the schedule, not us. With the U.S. now in a race between a raging virus and promising vaccines, basketball is hardly a priority, but even the smallest indication that normalcy is at hand has to be welcome.