Dallas Mavs open a new season in mostly empty arena

It’s a different kind of opening night for the Dallas Mavericks. COVID-19 precautions will make the new season anything but normal and nobody is more aware of that than Mavs owner Mark Cuban.

The Mavs ended last season in late August after a first-round playoff loss in the Orlando bubble.

Now they’re starting the new year with one win and two losses in the early season including a 51-point victory in Los Angeles against the Clippers Sunday.

But rather than a rousing home opener Wednesday night, the Mavs will instead take on the Charlotte Hornets in a mostly empty arena.

Much of the lower bowl is covered with a tarp that’s covered in logos.  Cuban said he cannot in good conscience allow fans into the arena right now in hopes that that will change before long.

The bigger question is can the NBA get through an entire 70-game season playing outside a bubble? During the season-opening road trip, Cuban learned firsthand of the league’s strict COVID-19 protocols.

"Having traveled with the team as a Tier 1 participant that means I have to take two tests every day. It means when we were in Los Angeles for our away game I wasn’t allowed to leave the hotel. It’s like I wanted to go take a walk. It was a nice day. Nope. I can go to the one room where we could pick up our food. I couldn’t eat it there. We could pick it up and go back to my room and then I could get on the bus and go to the arena for the game. That was it. And so if we can stay that vigilant I think we’ll get through our season but there’s gonna be ups and downs," he said.

Cuban is expected to be in his customary seat beyond the baseline with a mask on during Wednesday night’s game as one of the very few people allowed into the American Airlines Center.

The team benches are also on the opposite ends of the court with the Mavs on the left side of center court for the first time so that the teams don’t have to cross in front of one another when they come out of and go into their respective locker rooms.