With the NBA suspending games because of the rapidly growing coronavirus, a new sound might emerge from the sport. And i might be exasperated sighs of NBA owners when they check their rapidly declining bank statements.
"Tens of millions of dollars," Golden State Warriors president Rick Welts estimated to reporters on the possible financial ramifications. "Multi-million dollars for one game."
No chump change. But it is relative considering NBA franchises have an average value of $2.12 billion, according to Forbes. That explains why some teams expressed less concern about their relatively declining wealth and more support for the arena employees that have lost a stable paycheck until further notice.
"We feel for the workers mostly, the low-income wage earners that count on working our games," Warriors general manager Bob Myers told reporters. "If you’re going to have empathy, have it for them, not for us. We play basketball. It’s a big business, but we’re just playing basketball."
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Because the NBA is a big business, it appears likely that its teams will try to find ways to help the arena’s security guards, concession workers and janitors with their money. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban became the first NBA owner to share publicly his intentions.
"I reached out to the folks at the arena and our folks at the Mavs to find out what it would cost to support, financially support, people who aren’t going to be able to come to work," Cuban told reporters on Wednesday night. "They get paid by the hour, and this was their source of income. So, we’ll do some things there. We may ask them to go do some volunteer work in exchange, but we’ve already started the process of having a program in place. I don’t have any details to give, but it’s certainly something that’s important to me."
Not many details are readily available just yet. Once the NBA suspended operations after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was diagnosed with the coronavirus, teams were also grappling with other logistics. Players, coaches and other team employees will likely receive quarantines. Teams will also figure out various refund policies for canceled games. But the Mavericks and Warriors are among the teams that plan to brainstorm various ideas on how it can help its arena workers.
The Warriors have 1,500 part-time employees at Chase Center suddenly out of work. Not only is that because the NBA and its G League teams have suspended games. Chase Center has postponed concerts for Tame Impala (Friday) and Bell Biv Devoe & Friends (March 21), and has mulled whether to postpone or cancel a Post Malone concert (March 19).
"We’re going to be supportive in any way we can," Welts said. "We have a business model that depends on hosting live events. We’re in a tough spot there. We’re all in this government. Our government has an obligation here — county government, city government and state to understand the impact not just on 1,500 workers but on thousand of other workers that fall into exactly the same category. I hope we’re sympathetic to that and hope we’re doing things to help."
San Francisco mayor London Breed suggested it will devote some of the city’s budget to addressing those hardships. But to what extent? That is the question that remains difficult to answer.
"We are analyzing exactly financially what that would mean for our city budget this year and next and what are some of the investments and things that we can do to mitigate the impacts on not just our schools but our entire city," Breed told reporters. "This is going to be very challenging for all of us. It’s going to be very important that we work together to address it."
NBA teams might have more answers in coming days on how they will do just that.
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