NEW YORK — NBA owners will lose $1 million on average for every game canceled because of the lockout, and players will lose an estimated $350 million a month. The pain, though, may be more acute for thousands of people with no seat at the bargaining table.
Bars, restaurants and hotels will go quiet. Parking spots will go unfilled. And the workers who help make basketball a big event in 30 cities will wonder how long they can get by without it.
“I’m worried that my money situation is going to change – a lot,” said waitress Zuly Molina, who works at a Hooters at the Bayside complex next to the Miami Heat’s home arena. “It was a lot better last year. We had business before every game, during every game with people who couldn’t get tickets watching in here, then after every game. Now it’s gone, except for when they have a concert or something like that.”
Molina said she never believed the NBA would cancel games until Monday, when the league announced it was scrapping the first two weeks of the season – 100 games – because owners and players couldn’t agree on a new contract.
She said, “I thought it would be like football,” where the NFL lost preseason games but no regular-season games while it hammered out a deal with players. “They were locked out. They got it situated. I thought the NBA would get it situated.”
There’s no telling when that will happen. Commissioner David Stern indicated that the entire November calendar could be wiped away without a deal by the end of this month, but players and owners had no immediate plans to sit down with each other again.
The cancellations mean that Mark Cuban and his Dallas Mavericks won’t be able to collect their NBA championship rings in the Nov. 1 season opener, and that James Dolan won’t be able to show off his renovated Madison Square Garden to a sold-out crowd when New York hosts the Heat’s Big Three the next night.
But owners might be the lucky ones. They can still recoup some of their losses, and that’s what Stern said they could attempt by toughening their future proposals for a new collective bargaining agreement.
“Well, what we have to do is we have to account for the losses that we’re suffering, so those losses will be factored in as we move forward,” he said Monday night.
Players and owners have each made some concessions but remain far apart on several issues. Each side has sought a 53 percent cut of revenue for itself, though a 50-50 split has been floated informally. Owners also want a higher luxury tax, making it more expensive for teams to spend over the salary cap, but players say that would do too much to discourage teams from offering big contracts.
Players and fans quickly took to Twitter and talk shows, disgusted that the sides couldn’t work out an agreement and were willing to cause so much damage following such a successful season.
“All I can think about, and I’m not trying to sound like I’m on my soapbox here, but all I can think about are the thousands and thousands of arena, team and hospitality employees that are now going to be out of work,” said Andrew Feinstein, a bar owner and season ticket holder in Denver. “I thought the owners and players had an obligation to work this thing out while continuing to play the game, given the dire economic circumstances that are taking place in our country right now.”
A lengthy lockout will be felt strongest in the NBA’s small-market cities. In Salt Lake City, a Marriott hotel was taking cancellations Tuesday for about 40 rooms previously booked by the Memphis Grizzlies the night of Nov. 2. Tyson Lybbert, director of sales and marketing for the Salt Lake Marriott City Center, said each game brings between $5,000 and $10,000 to the chain.
Without a lockout, basketball already would have been back by now. The exhibition schedule was to have opened Sunday, and even preseason games can bring big crowds to restaurants and bars near NBA arenas.
Jim Couch, city manager of Oklahoma City, was concerned for restaurants, hotels and volunteer groups in his city. The Thunder are coming off their most successful season since relocating from Seattle, reaching the Western Conference finals last year behind NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant, and have developed one of the league’s most passionate fan bases.
“What I’m more concerned about than anything else is the momentum that the city has gotten, disrupting the momentum with the Thunder. It was a special year last year with the Thunder, and I think everybody was looking forward to continue that,” Couch said. “I think it’s almost a love affair between the community and the team, and you hate to disrupt that.”
Business went on for the league’s partners. ESPN was scheduled to show seven games during the opening two weeks and plans to replace them mostly with college football and basketball games. TNT will rely on its regular prime-time lineup to fill the six games it would have televised.
Adidas, the league’s official outfitter, and fellow sneaker giant Nike said they remained committed to basketball and could seek additional exposure at the collegiate or international levels.
Stern and union president Derek Fisher of the Lakers expressed disappointment for fans. Players and owners had the luxury of knowing just how complex the issues were and had two years to prepare themselves financially for a moment that Fisher said was “what we anticipated would probably happen.”
“This is a big blow obviously to our fans, most importantly,” he said. “They don’t have a voice in this fight so far, but we hear them loud and clearly. They want basketball, we want to play basketball, and we’re going to do the responsible thing and try our best to bring them basketball as soon as we possibly can.”
Source: Miami Herald