UNITED STATES—In March, the NBA abruptly canceled its season due to the coronavirus outbreak. Throughout the pandemic league officials and executives have been evaluating different scenarios regarding how to restart the season. According to CNBC, some in the league are concerned with health and liability issues and are calling for the season to be officially canceled.
The NBA has withstood lockouts but canceling the season for health and safety reasons would be unprecedented. It would be a massive blow to the league and its fans.
Outright cancelation would have an economic impact across the league and the many markets it reaches. Particularly, the state of Michigan as online gambling in Michigan is set to be legal by the end of 2020 (or 2021 at the latest). The state, as well as the Detroit Pistons, would most certainly lose out on the economic boost that comes from home games and online sports betting.
In addition, the league splits millions of dollars from their $2 billion TV deal with ESPN and Turner Sports with the Pistons and the rest of the league. Losing out on this revenue would be a giant loss for everyone involved, including ESPN and Turner.
Teams have already begun to try and mitigate their losses and potential losses. As reported in the New York Times, the league and the player’s association agreed on a plan to withhold 25% of player’s paychecks starting on May 15th.
Still, team owners and league officials are having a tough time envisioning a future where the return makes financial sense. Especially since many expect arenas to be empty if the season is salvaged.
The July Proposal
CNBC also reported that the league is now starting to consider Orlando, FL as a host city for NBA regular season games in July.
Fans may remember that Orlando has hosted a summer league in the past. It’s just another idea that’s been floated around NBA circles, similar to having Las Vegas host since they already host the NBA summer league.
The Orlando proposal may provide a sense of optimism for those who don’t ant to cancel the season. Relative to other state’s it seems as though Florida is a bit more lenient with their restrictions, especially given the fact the UFC plans to host events without fans in Jacksonville, FL in May.
Nevertheless, the NBA is navigating through a serious hardship both from a financial standpoint and a health and safety standpoint. Their decisions moving forward will have a great impact on the league, players, team and arena personnel, and the local economies in each NBA city.
Additionally, other leagues due to start in the fall, such as the NFL, will likely base some of their decision-making on the pending decision from the NBA. Only time will tell how things will unfold and if the NBA will officially call it quits on the 2019-2020 NBA season.