Mike Gorman: ‘I think we’re going to be playing games in empty arenas pretty soon’

"Sooner than people think."

Mike Gorman
Mike Gorman at TD Garden. –Jean Nagy, Boston.com

NBC Sports Boston play-by-play voice Mike Gorman expects fans will soon be temporarily barred from TD Garden, as a result of the growing concern surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

“I think we’re going to be playing games in empty arenas pretty soon,” Gorman said Tuesday morning during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich.” “Sooner than people think.”

The NBA has already issued a memo instructing teams to prepare for such a scenario. Gorman said he spoke with someone in the league office, who indicated the possibility of finishing the season without fans in attendance is high.

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The Celtics have 19 regular-season games remaining before the playoffs are scheduled to begin April 18.

According to Gorman, teams would lose about $3 million per game with no ticket sales. The revenue generated from TV broadcasts will continue to flow; however, Gorman noted local crews may no longer travel for away games. Instead, NBC Sports Boston would broadcast the home team’s television feed.

As for when those changes will be put in place, Gorman said the situation was described to him as “day-to-day.” Gorman is in Indiana to call Tuesday night’s Celtics-Pacers game, but he expects an announcement to be made within 10 days.

Should local crews be required to stay behind on the road, Gorman could still call the games remotely in Boston — an outcome he says he prefers.

“My concern level is high,” he said. “At the Celtic game the other night, a lot of people come walking by the table and they want to say nice things, which I’ve very flattered by how long they’ve listened, and they stick out their hands to shake hands. I just don’t want to shake hands with anybody anymore. It’s nothing personal, but I’m just trying to cut down the odds of being the one who gets this thing.”

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Gorman said he’s trying to wash his hands as much as possible in addition to stocking up on hand sanitizer. The latter’s proven to be a bit difficult, as he went to two different drug stores in Indiana in search of Purrell but came up empty-handed.

Hanging on the walls of TD Garden are signs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that encourage people to frequently wash their hands. The NBA has also asked for players to fist-bump fans, rather than give high-fives. Gorman said the Garden is also expected to clear the area near the Celtics’ tunnel so that nobody can get within 8-10 feet of a player.

In a joint statement with the NHL, MLB, and MLS, the NBA announced Monday that locker rooms would be closed to media following recommendations from infectious disease and public health experts.

“The first time an NBA player comes down with this, that’s really going to mess things up,” Gorman said. “If somebody comes down with it who’s directly associated with the team or a player, then they’re going to have to make some very interesting decisions in terms of who they quarantine.”

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