Coronavirus brought the Cleveland Cavaliers’ miserable season to a screeching halt. The USA’s health crisis indefinitely delayed Cleveland fans’ misery campaign (amid the league’s second-worst record). Still, the suspended NBA season is a disappointment. The forward-thinking Cavs were more prepared for this worldwide pandemic than most teams. Or so it thought.
The franchise lost hometown hero Lebron James to free agency, but looked forward by investing $185 million into the renovated Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, with its new, state-of-the-art clean air purification system.
The Cavaliers’ Bipolar Ionization (BPI) air purification technology by AtmosAir Solutions helps eliminate any airborne particles and germs that escape standard HVAC ventilation and filtration systems, reducing chance for illness. This pristine air also decreases risk for staph infections and other illnesses that can sideline players by significantly reducing germs, mold, dust, odors, bacteria and the spread of airborne viruses.
“We’ve touched every aspect our venue as part of the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse transformation project, including updating the operational facility systems that ensures that the air inside our building is clean and healthy,” Cavs executive vice president Antony Bonavita said about the modernized arena.
The Cavs aren’t alone. The Boston Celtics (TD Garden), Los Angeles Lakers (Staples Center), and Los Angeles Clippers (Staples Center), also deploy Bipolar indoor air purification for players and fans in stadiums, locker rooms and training facilities. So do the Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse is northeast Ohio’s premier arena, hosting more than two million patrons, 1,600 events each year, including concerts and family shows. Located in downtown Cleveland, it was scheduled to host now cancelled 2020 March Madness games. It will host the 2022 NBA All-Star Game and the 2024 NCAA Division 1 Women’s Basketball Final Four.
But for now, the arena is dark, under mass gathering safety restrictions imposed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, who even delayed in-person voting for the state’s Democratic primary until June 2.
The AtmosAir system monitors and treats the arena’s air quality while reducing its carbon footprint, reducing arena and city costs. It’s a sustainable alternative to maintenance-intensive carbon filters in older HVAC systems.
Could this high-grade purified air have tamed the coronavirus? Of course not. Not with fans in close proximity to each other. After Utah Jazz All-Stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive for coronavirus, NBA commissioner Adam Silver pulled the plug, suspending the season until further notice.
The Cavaliers were subsequently one of five teams told to self quarantine, following their March 2 game versus the Jazz. At least five more NBA players have tested positive since, including Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant and three of his teammates. Michele Roberts, executive director of the NBA Players Association suspects 40 to 50 percent of NBA players and staff are coronavirus positive, according to a USA Today interview. A scary figure.
In the end, it didn’t matter how effective the Cavs’, Lakers’ and Celtics’ purified air arenas were. The pandemic dictated an overwhelming response. Soon the NCAA, (a reluctant money-grubbing follower) canceled March Madness, a decision that forfeits billions of dollars (an indicator of just how dangerous the coronavirus threat had become).
Even the NBA took some critical hits for its initial hesitation, as games still tipped off for a couple of days—unlike the ATP’s decisive cancellation of its popular Indian Wells tennis tournament (filled with international players).
“I appreciate the NBA, which I thought was a little bit sluggish in not immediately banning all fans from the arenas,” NBA reporter Brian Windhorst said on ESPN’s First Take. “We saw individual teams make very strange statements. The Cavs saying that their air handlers at the arena could clear out the air. We saw the Wizards defy the D.C. mayor’s order. But [the NBA] did have testing measures in place so Gobert could get tested. As soon as he was able to get the result they were able to pull the plug.”
Even when the Cavaliers are ahead of the game, the franchise chokes under pressure. Did business interests take precedence over common sense? Did the team just have supreme belief in its new air purification system? Or was it learning about coronavirus on the fly like the rest of us? Likely all of the above. Either way, the decision was taken out of its hands.
So while the NBA is generally lauded, the forward-thinking Cavs are again lost in the shuffle, especially in the company of the other rare-air legendary franchises—the Lakers and Celtics.
The Bad News Cavs can’t catch a break. Hometown hero Lebron James left via free agency twice. Star guard Kyrie Irving was traded. First year coach John Beilein resigned. And forward Kevin Love reportedly wants out too. But don’t feel too bad for Cleveland. Coronavirus didn’t actually end the Cavs’ season. Its season was virtually over in November, based on wins and losses.
Silver lining: since 2007, the Cavs played in five NBA Finals and won the 2015-2016 NBA championship. That title banner forever hangs from the rafters of revitalized Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse—in that rare, glorified, purified air up there.