There were a lot of angry fans in Tampa last night, but when it’s all said and done, I’m sure they’ll get over the fact the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat cancelled their scheduled exhibition game because of dangerous court conditions.
One fan was apparently angrier than most, as he tossed something from the upper deck of the arena (reports are unclear as to what the object was) that nearly hit one of the Miami Heat players right after the cancellation announcement was made approximately an hour before the game was scheduled to start.
Baseball fans are pretty used to such things happening, even in the regular season. Games get rained out all the time, and spring training games are cancelled at the drop of a hat if it looks like something’s wrong.
Hockey fans have dealt with it as well occasionally (in fact, a Carolina Hurricanes vs. Florida Panthers preseason contest was cancelled just this year due to storm concerns with Hurricane Nicole.
However, football and basketball fans rarely see a game cancelled for any reason. Football simply because they’ll play in damn near any condition except bad fog (can’t deprive the television viewers of the game), and it would cost a fortune. Basketball rarely sees game cancellations because there’s just never any reason to.
Basketball courts in almost all arenas are carefully controlled, and those maintaining them have had years of experience. They know how to prepare them for the games, even if the games are taking place in an arena that serves the dual purpose of being a basketball court and a hockey rink.
However, the preseason game we’re talking about here was in Tampa, and they’re simply not used to preparing that arena to play basketball all the time (although they better do a better job of it when Men’s College Basketball comes to town for March Madness next year).
According to reports, the floor was loaned to another arena several months ago, and a cleaner that had oil in it was applied to the wood panels before they were returned.
St. Pete Times Forum CEO Tod Leiweke said of the mishap, “It was simply the wrong solution used on the floor. It had an oil content, and it shouldn’t have been used.”
“It would have been like playing on butter,” Orlando guard J.J. Redick stated.
His view was echoed by the management of the arena, as well as the coaching staffs and players of both teams. As the Heat’s Dwyane Wade put it, “I felt that the floor wasn’t really a good floor. Just walking on the floor, you could tell.”
While this was obviously disappointing to the fans who’d paid good money to come to the game, it was the right thing to do. There have already been far too many injuries to players this preseason, and playing on a surface that would have exposed these players to dangerous conditions was simply not an option.
Those fans will get full refunds, and while that’s no consolation to those who flew in from Dallas or Albany, NY to see the game, they took that risk when they flew down there. The players aren’t obligated to risk injury, especially possible career-ending injuries (which a slippery floor could end up causing), just so a few people in the stands don’t feel gipped.
South Florida fans aren’t able to get a clear look at who might have the upper hand in this battle of two behemoths from the sunny state, but I’m sure they’re all convinced their teams are the best regardless, and probably wouldn’t have changed their view no matter what had happened in this game.
So, we’ll all just have to wait till the Heat’s home opener at Miami next Friday (where these same two teams will be playing) before we’ll be able to get a handle on which set of fans are correct in their views.
I, for one, can’t wait to see that matchup.