CLEVELAND -- Thirsty basketball fans cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers will have to wait at a concession stand the next time they want a sip of water.
Citing concerns over swine flu, the team said Monday that all drinking water fountains have been removed from Quicken Loans Arena to reduce the spread of bacteria and communicable diseases.
The fountains were removed in November, said team spokesman Tad Carper. Fans who want a drink of water can now get a 9-ounce cup for free at the concession stand or pay $4 for bottled water.
"This was done in an effort to foster the most health-safe environment we felt we could provide for our fans," Carper said in an e-mailed statement.
Carper said he's not aware of any other NBA teams who have removed water fountains from their arenas. He said the team has also significantly increased its cleaning and sanitization procedures throughout the arena in light of what he called the "national health landscape."
Carper said the decision was based on information from several qualified sources, though he did not specify who those sources were.
Removing the fountains was not an attempt to force fans to purchase bottled water, Carper said.
The team did not consult the city's health department, which does not recommend removing fountains as a health precaution, said department director Matt Carroll.
"I haven't been able to find anything in the whole H1N1 world that says water fountains are a concern," Carroll said.
Instead, the city recommends following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including regular hand-washing and covering your mouth when you cough.
A message seeking comment from the NBA was not returned on Monday.