Sunday, March 22, 2009

Looking at the Times's article on the effects of economics on sports

A New York Times Sports section article today, headlined In Economic Downturn, Corporate Ties Put Bind on Sports, takes a national view, with a couple of mentions of the New Jersey Nets, and a couple of missed opportunities, as well.

Some excerpts:
The worst economy since the Great Depression is settling over the fields, courts, tracks, luxury suites and boardrooms of professional sports.

The N.F.L. cut 169 jobs, and its commissioner reduced his salary by about 20 percent. The N.B.A. shed a tenth of its staff, and ESPN will not fill 200 vacant jobs. The United States Olympic Committee laid off 54 workers to cut millions from its budget, and Nascar teams have laid off hundreds of employees.

...Teams have frozen or cut ticket prices, and some, like the Nets and the Minnesota Timberwolves, will give refunds to season-ticket holders if they lose their jobs.


Unmentioned: the Nets have also pursued the attention-grabbing but (likely) not very useful Snowbird Ticket Exchange.

The central point & Barclays questions

The Times's summary:
Pro sports were once thought to be more resistant than other industries to recessions, but this is no ordinary downturn. Teams, leagues and tours have become increasingly reliant on revenue from corporate sponsorships, advertising and luxury suites, and are likely to suffer more than they did in previous downturns. The financial and automotive industries, so heavily invested in the marketing of sports, are undergoing upheavals that have required government bailouts and rounds of layoffs to survive.

Unmentioned: the recommitment of Barclays Capital to the Brooklyn arena, a situation that raises questions not only about the funneling of money from AIG but also whether the Frank Gehry arena to which Barclays originally agreed still would be built.

Loans from the NBA

The Times reports:
The Indiana Pacers are losing $30 million this season and are among 15 N.B.A. teams in the red. The 30-team league would not say if the Pacers were one of 12 teams that borrowed from a recent $200 million addition to its $1.7 billion credit facility. The new credit, Commissioner David Stern said, is an affirmation of strength, not financial weakness.

“Owners can borrow at better terms than they can get individually,” he said, adding that the additional credit is not crisis-related but can be used for various purposes.


Unmentioned is the Nets' borrowing of $20 million, which, as far as I can tell, is an effort to stanch the team's losses.

Losses at the Izod

The Times reports:
Closer to home, P.S.E.&G., New Jersey’s largest utility, made a decision that, if emulated in stadiums and arenas nationwide, will erode bottom lines. It chose to save $400,000 a year by not renewing its leases on luxury boxes at the Izod Center, the Prudential Center, the minor league Riverfront Stadium and Giants Stadium (although it has chosen to rent one at the new Giants-Jets stadium), and at two arts facilities.

That means more losses for the Nets. And it raises questions about any corporation's willingness to commit to luxury suites at the yet-unbuilt Barclays Center. Remember, Nets' uber-marketer Brett Yormark recently claimed that 20% of the suites have been sold--the same number claimed last May.

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