Milwaukee Bucks: How they’re exploring having games without fans

The Milwaukee Bucks are likely to be without fans in attendance to start next season, but they’re exploring creative ways to have some kind of atmosphere.

It’s certainly more than likely that the Milwaukee Bucks start their 2020-21 season in Milwaukee and in front of no fans.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA at large has had to come to grips with this reality and being able to restart their 2019-20 campaign in the bubble down in Orlando certainly was a success, given all the logistics and hurdles at hand to pull such a feat off.

But with the NBA’s reported plans to start next season on December 22 and for all teams to play in their home markets, the league’s wishes to practice caution in hope of having fans in attendance appears to be put on the backburner.

Regardless of when next season starts, the thought that the Bucks will be playing at home in an empty Fiserv Forum is only an eventual reality and one the organization has been bracing since the start of the pandemic.

In an interview with WTMJ’s Greg Matzek earlier this month, Bucks president Peter Feigin discussed how vital selling tickets and the attendance for their home games is to the team’s entire operations:

“For us, attendance is a very big deal. Attendance is 45 percent of revenue for our NBA team. To play with no attendance would be a really challenging prospect for us.

And that’s one of the scenarios. the city of Milwaukee has basically limited our occupancy to 250 people for the foreseeable future, especially as COVID-19 doesn’t go down.”

When asked about whether the Bucks could even host fans under such significant restrictions and without fans in general, Feigin explain the thought processes that all are in work in Milwaukee and likely the 28 other markets around the league:

“Can you? Yes, you can. You can do anything and we can make anything happen. But you have to have the roadmap out for is it the way you start out and scale up? What are going to be the opportunities going forward to get that done? And what are the business ramifications of it because you’ll certainly have a tough time with a full payroll and not having any attendance. All those discussions are happening now and it’s condensed in these next four weeks to really think about what the 2021 season looks like and beyond. We’re looking at all the things you might think. Do we look at bubbles? Do we look at pods? Do we look at regional ways to start up a season? All with the goal of how do we, as quickly as possible, scale back to normal.”

While the question of whether the Milwaukee Bucks will have fans in Fiserv Forum will loom over next season, they’re looking into alternative ways to make the best of these times.

Just last month, Feigin divulged to CNBC’s Eric Chemi that the Bucks are exploring having an outdoor tailgating area next to the arena that would be akin to watching a Bucks game like a drive-in movie and will be priced as if you were attending a Bucks game inside Fiserv Forum.

While these plans are far from being an actual reality and are coming under dire circumstances, Feigin made it known that these plans for such a space would go beyond getting through the pandemic:

“We don’t want to do this just for a COVID period of time. We think we can convert the modular shipping containers to food and beverage and cool bars, very quickly,” Feigin said.”

It’s clearly an inventive way to get some form of revenue within the organization and be able to have some semblance of a fan-driven atmosphere, even as it would be adjacent to the arena. And it’s very possible the Bucks will have to continue using their creativity in other ways, whether it’s using virtual reality, etc.

We’re only seeing some clarity as to how the 2020-21 NBA season will look like, even as the COVID-19 crisis affects the state of Wisconsin and the country at large. With that, the Bucks organization will have to go above and beyond to jumpstart their business with no end in sight for the pandemic.