The Golden State Warriors Will Play Home Games Without Fans - Here's What That Will Look Like

Golden State Warriors
What an NBA game without fans in attendance could look like Thearon W. Henderson/Getty

As cases of novel coronavirus spread across the United States, many cities and states are working to contain the outbreak by limiting large gatherings of people.

On Wednesday, the Golden State Warriors confirmed the team would comply with an order from San Francisco Mayor London Breed that prohibits gatherings of over 1,000 people. That ban means the NBA team will face the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday with no fans in attendance at the Chase Center.

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"We'll have a stats crew, we'll have a PA announcer to help explain what's going on during the game, we'll have statistics on the scoreboards, we'll have radio and television broadcasts, that will happen, but beyond that, as Bob [Myers, Warriors General Manager] said, when consulting with the players, they kinda think it's weird not to have at least some music," Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts said during a press conference.

Welts added that the Warriors, Nets, the NBA and San Fransico city officials never discussed canceling the game, but that the teams want to strike a balance between being respectful of what is happening in the country and creating a good environment for the players.

Myers acknowledged that the game will create a "very imperfect environment to compete in."

Earlier on Wednesday, the Mid-American Conference (MAC) gave a look into what the Warriors/Nets game will feel like as its women's basketball tournament began in Cleveland, Ohio, when Central Michigan and Toldeo played to an empty arena. Credentialed personnel from each school, family members of the student-athletes, credentialed media, television and radio crews and official team party members were allowed to attend the game.

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During the contest, Central Michigan Life reporter Christian Booher posted a number of pictures and videos showing what a nearly empty stadium looked like.

"Starting lineups for Central Michigan," Booher wrote with a video of the introductions.

"In case you were wondering what this environment looks and sounds like," wrote Booher with videos of the empty stadium with bench players and parents in the stands helping to create noise in an effort to emulate the environment of a regular game.

Booher also posted a video of the parents singing a "fight song," in place of the Central Michigan pep band, who were not allowed to attend.

Additionally, he showed what the stadium as a whole looked like, including closed stores and concession stands with no lines.

Following the game, both teams spoke about the environment during a post-game press conference.

"It wasn't weird at all," said Toledo guard Nakiah Black, when asked if having no fans in attendance made it difficult to play. "Yes, we're used to a lot bigger roar but the fans that we did have here, the family we had here, they gave us their all."

"I think our bench and the fans that we did have made up for the people that couldn't be here," Toledo head coach Tricia Cullop said.

Cullop also touched on the decision to hold the tournament without fans in attendance, a decision made by MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher.

"If he [Steinbrecher] has to take some kind of precaution to protect all of us then even though it's difficult, we have to do sometimes difficult decisions to save everyone and I think even if it's a cautious thing we fully support him," Cullop said.

Members of the Central Michigan team made similar comments when asked about the game's environment.

"I don't think it makes a difference personally, I play for my teammates," said Central Michigan forward Kyra Bussell. "It's cool that it's loud, it was weird that it was quiet but overall I'm here to play for my teammates."

"I thought the few fans that we did have there were loud," said Central Michigan head coach Heather Oesterle. "But I do think it's a tough environment to play in."

The Warriors/Nets game won't be the only sporting event to forgo fans in the coming weeks.

On Tuesday, the Ivy League canceled its conference tournament, giving Yale an automatic bid to the NCAA March Madness Tournament. The Mountain West Conference announced its conference tournament will be held with no fans and the College Basketball Invitational, a tournament held for teams that fail to make the NCAA and NIT tournaments, has been canceled for 2020.

With Selection Sunday approaching on March 15, and the two play-in games for the NCAA Tournament scheduled for March 17-18 in Dayton, Ohio, the state's governor Mike DeWine announced that he will enforce a ban that prohibits fans from attending the games. Cleveland, Ohio is also slated to host games in the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament, and those contests are also included in the spectator ban.

Later Wednesday, NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement in regard to the upcoming NCAA Tournament, saying that all tournament games will be closed to the public.

"The NCAA continues to asses the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel. Based on their advice and my discussions with the NCAA Board of Governors, I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance," Emmert wrote in his statement. "This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly our student-athletes. We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families. Today, we will more forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed."

3/11/20, 4:41 p.m: This story has been updated to include a statement from NCAA President Mark Emmert.

The Golden State Warriors Will Play Home Games Without Fans - Here's What That Will Look Like | News