State Golden Warriors have submitted an ambitious plan to government and local officials to reopen the San Francisco Yacht Center to 50 percent capacity through next season’s NBA, which owner Joe Lacobe says could become a model for all sports franchises and entertainment venues to safely bring back fans after the COVID 19 pandemic.
Lacob said the Warriors are willing to spend up to $30 million on testing every fan, Warriors staff and players with the most accurate COVID 19 test form for every home game or every day they come to the Chase Center.
Not only do I want to do it and show the world how we can do it now, but I’m willing to put money into it, said Lacob, who has a master’s degree in public health from UCLA and has made a fortune as a venture capitalist in biotechnology. This is a serious and serious problem. It can’t take a few years… because if it takes a few years, the NBA will cease to exist.
You can’t support this competition without fans. You can do it for a year. We’re all gonna live a year. But let’s assume we’re in this situation next year. We are now talking about serious financial losses, very serious financial losses for many people.
Lacob said that he and a team from Warriors have worked tirelessly on this plan, called Operation Dubna, since the NBA launched Operation Dubna on March 11th. The month of March, the company ceased its activities.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Joe Lacob, owner of State Gold Warrior, says that the team’s plan to test fans for the coronavirus, which has been presented to the state and local government, could be a model for all teams to follow in bringing more fans to the stadiums. Noah Graham/NBAE by Getty Images
This depends on the use of rapid PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or equivalent amplification technologies that can detect traces of viral genetic material in nasal or throat swabs within 15 minutes and are much more accurate than rapid antigen tests that look for a protein present on the surface of the spilled virus.
The NBA used more accurate PCR testing at the end of the season in Orlando, Florida, but the results usually arrived overnight because the samples were tested in a nearby laboratory. PCR tests have also been used in Major League Baseball, but the results often took longer than 24 hours because the samples were sent to a laboratory in Utah. This contributed to the unfortunate situation in Game 6 of the World Series, where Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was eliminated in the eighth set after his test results were positive.
Rapid PCR testing or its equivalent has only been available for a few months and Hollywood studios were among the first to benefit when the industry resumed production. The NBA also used it this summer and autumn to test thousands of samples that helped the Warriors develop their plans.
All three companies – Mesa Biotech, Visby and CUEHealth – have received FDA approval and are accelerating their production, which Lacob believes is a big step forward that will allow the Warriors to manage the amount of testing they need.
These tests are much more expensive than quick antigen tests and much less available, so the New York Times calls them the new velvet cords when it comes to parties, entertainment or gatherings for good heels.
However, Dr. Lacob believes that a rapid PCR test is necessary because it has an accuracy of almost 99% to detect coronaviruses in humans before they become contagious. Experts estimate that rapid tests for the antigens used by the White House can fail in 30-50% of people who have a sufficiently high viral load to be contagious.
The White House used less sensitive tests, which means they will have more false negatives, said Dr. George Rutherford, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF, who reviewed the Warriors’ plans. The Warriors plan to use the most accurate and sensitive tests we have, and there’s a big difference. I don’t think anyone else could have done more than them. It’s so close to the perfect plan that I saw something reopen.
The warrior’s plan also calls for everyone entering the Chase Center to wear a mask and keep a social distance, as well as an advanced air filter system that can use 100% outside air or blow air into the building and replace it four times an hour if necessary.
In a memo sent to the teams on Wednesday, the NBA has drawn up rules requiring fans to be checked within 30 feet of the field. Fans must pass and return a coronavirus negative test, i.e. a PCR test or equivalent, selected from the wild within two days, or an NBA-approved rapid antigen or virus detection test (e.g. PCR, LAMP or isothermal test) selected from the wild on the day.
However, it is only in certain parts of the country that fans can go to sporting events at that time.
Since the start of the pandemic, California has disapproved of fans in every way, and San Francisco this week announced a reduction in reopening, including the capacity of restaurants, gyms and theaters, due to the recent increase in coronavirus cases in the Bay Area and the state. The Los Angeles Lakers announced Wednesday that the games at the Staples Center will be fan free until further notice.
Lacob believes that his plan will eventually be approved by the city’s health authorities and the government as soon as he explains and proves that the science is behind it.
Let’s prove the concept. Let’s use our money, resources, seven to eight months of work and experience to prove the concept, says Lacob. That’s what I’m trying to communicate with the state, the city and the government.
This [rapid PCR] test is an order of magnitude more accurate than the [rapid antigen test] test for a [White House] event. That’s the best you can do. A lot of people don’t even know these tests exist, and they pile them up.
By spring, some of these companies will carry out rapid PCR testing in quantities close to 100,000 per day. But I’m trying to show the world, I’m trying to show the sports world in particular and California how it’s done. A safe way for people to go to the event and walk around the building. The numbers confirm it.
The team chairman, Rick Welts, said this attempt to reopen the Yacht Centre could be more challenging than overcoming all the political obstacles it faced in the construction process.
The Hunt Center is now closed for more days than it was open, Welts said. It’s something you can’t even think about. We never felt like we’d lost control of the Chase Center, because no matter how many obstacles there were, we were really sure we could overcome them. And there is so much that is beyond our control, and there is so much less knowledge about what we are trying to solve, and so another level of knowledge at which it is incredibly difficult to reach a consensus.
Mr Welts said the health officials he treated, including Dr Rutherford, have so far been receptive and interested in the Warriors’ plans. During a recent visit to the team’s former training center in Auckland, Welts said Governor Gavin Newsome of California spent about an hour interviewing team officials about the plan.
He knows about our plan. He was really curious about what we did and why we did it the way we did it, Welts said. The governor was very pleased with our plan. But for obvious reasons, he may want to hear the health authorities before considering the consequences.
ESPN contacted Dr. Mark Ghali, California’s Health Minister, to whom the Warriors presented their plan, and Dr. Thomas Aragon, San Francisco’s Health Commissioner. None of them responded to letters asking them to comment on the plan.
The San Francisco Department of Health has made a statement to ESPN saying that we have received the proposal from the Warriors and that we are looking at it in the context of the current increase in the number of COWID 19 cases in San Francisco, the bay area, and the state.
However, Rick Klausner, a member of the Rockefeller Foundation task force who advised the National Governors Association and cities such as Los Angeles, Detroit and New Orleans on their testing strategies during the pandemic, said he had reviewed the Warriors’ plans and that his only concern was to test up to 10,000 fans and staff every night of the game logistically.
This is a great idea, Klausner said. I think the idea’s safe, it’s doable. But if Joe can handle the logistics and do it right… he has to document everything because it has to be accessible to everyone. We need truly successful models, whether it’s opening up schools or opening up the entertainment industry and so on.
That’s why I think it’s great that Joe’s trying to do it. From a technical and scientific-medical point of view, I personally feel comfortable when I think it is safe if it can be done with fast PCR tests, masks, with reduced density and mass.
Klausner suggested that it might be better to first try a plan with 1,000 or 2,000 fans to work out the logistics. Otherwise, he said, it would be very beneficial for public health if so many people could be screened and the data made available to the scientific community.
The original plan of the Warriors was to have fans test the game at the Chase Center or at locations around the bay within 48 hours of the game. They worked with CLEAR, a company that uses corneal and fingerprint scans to identify pre-approved air travellers and link the test results to the ticket holder on the mobile device.
Last season the Warriors did not play in the 17 finals of their draw, which, according to Lacob’s calculations, cost them $50 million in revenue. If they play this season without fans, he estimates that they could lose another $400 million in revenue and eventually lose $200 million. It is financially sound to spend $30 million on a comprehensive plan to restore arena capacity to 50%. But Lacob said he wasn’t the driving force behind the project.
I want people to understand that the Warriors aren’t just trying to make more money, he said. Yeah, we’re trying to attract fans and generate revenue, but I’m trying to set a standard. I’m trying to show the world how to do it safely.
In the sports and entertainment industry, not only in basketball, thousands and thousands of people are out of work. We can’t put food on the table. They can’t take care of their children. His kids aren’t at school. You have to take care of her. What are they going to do about childcare?
There are so many reasons why we should find something other than the fact that the vaccine is a miracle cure, so that people can get back to work, so that they can work in our facilities. Thousands of people, 500 Warrior employees and 1500 on race day, but on top of that there are all the salesmen. So many people depend on it and don’t have a job.
Someone needs to take a step forward and not just show the world of sport, but show the world how we can still resume some parts of normal life while we fight the virus and wait for the vaccine.
Lacob said he has been in close contact with NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Dave Weiss, the league’s senior vice president of player affairs, who leads the league’s health and safety efforts.
When asked about the Warriors’ plans, Weiss responded to ESPN: Joe Lacob and the Warriors have done an incredible job and have been thinking about developing an innovative test approach that could help fans attend Warriors games this season. The safety of the NBA players, staff and fans is paramount and we continue to work with the Warriors and other teams on test plans and protocols that include other important public health measures.