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Vegas linked to NBA return as F1 considers ‘biosphere’ plan


The NBA has been approached by MGM Resorts over the possibility of hosting games at the company’s Las Vegas facilities as the basketball league looks to resume its 2019-20 season.

The NBA has been suspended since March following the COVID-19 outbreak and it has previously been reported that the league is exploring the feasibility of staging its entire postseason in Las Vegas.

Bill Hornbuckle, acting chief executive of MGM Resorts, has now revealed that the company has held talks with the NBA and other teams about staging events at neutral venues in the Nevada city.

“We have been in dialogue with leagues and other sporting activities around televised-only events,” Hornbuckle said, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper. “Boxing, MMA, NBA, NHL, etc. We can host some of that. We’re working diligently … to do that.”

NBA spokesman Mike Bass confirmed that the league has been approached by MGM Resorts and other properties, although it has not engaged in any “substantive discussions”.

The New York Times, citing a proposal sent by MGM to the NBA and WNBA, reported that the company would look to designate one full block of the Las Vegas Strip for players to live and play games in a quarantined environment. Players would be joined by their families and other essential personnel as part of the proposal, which would see MGM convention centres converted into basketball courts.

The Review-Journal added that the NHL ice hockey league is also considering Las Vegas as a potential site to play games, although no final decision has been made.

Formula One

The Formula One motor-racing series is considering creating a ‘biosphere’ environment to ensure its 2020 season can resume with a double-header set of races in Austria.

F1 has been hit hard by COVID-19, with 10 races having already been called off. The series’ next scheduled race is in Austria on July 5, which would be held without fans. Austria would then host another event on July 12.

F1 is still looking to stage between 15 and 18 races and the series’ managing director Ross Brawn has been discussing plans to ensure that events can go ahead as safely as possible.

Speaking on the F1 Nation podcast, Brawn said: “One of the logistical challenges is getting everyone tested and cleared to enter the paddock and enter the racing environment.

“And I think once we do that, it’s very attractive to keep everyone in that environment, within that kind of biosphere that we want to create for another race. It’s also pretty challenging to find the right sort of races early on where we can control the environment well enough.

“Austria fits that bill very well. It’s got a local airport right next to the circuit, where people can charter planes into. It’s not too close to a metropolis, it has a great infrastructure around it. There will be no motorhomes, but there will be full catering facility laid on that the circuit has. We can basically contain everyone within that environment. Therefore once we’re there, it’s appealing to have another race the following week.”

Officials at the Hungarian Grand Prix confirmed last week that its event would go ahead without fans this year if it ends up being staged at all. The race is currently scheduled for August 2 and the Hungarian government has banned any event involving more than 500 spectators until August 15.

Image: Bill Debevc