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NBA teams to receive $30m payout amid COVID-19 losses

The NBA basketball league will reportedly give $30m (£22.5m/€24.7m) to each of its 30 teams as they continue to deal with the impacts of lost revenue due to COVID-19.

The new NBA season is due to begin on December 23 and a number of teams will be playing home games without fans in attendance. Any teams that are able to welcome back fans will only operate at a limited capacity and the absence of spectators is set to significantly impact ticketing revenues.

According to Sportico, the NBA recently sold $900m in a private placement to institutional investors and this figure will be evenly distributed among the league’s 30 teams, who will be able to use the money as they like.

The 2020-21 NBA regular season has been shortened to 72 games after the 2019-20 campaign was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Around 40 per cent of NBA revenue is generated through ticket sales, concessions and other game-day sources.

The 2019-20 season was concluded in a ‘bubble’ environment at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida to minimise the risks posed by COVID-19. The NBA will allow teams to return to their home venues for the upcoming season and each franchise will make its own call on whether fans will be allowed in the arena.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are the latest team to detail plans for fan attendance, with a limited number of spectators to be allowed at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse for the season opener against the Charlotte Hornets on December 23.

The Cavaliers have been working with the NBA and local authorities, along with venue consultants and partners, to devise a comprehensive return-to-venue plan that prioritises health and safety.

Up to 300 fans will be permitted, with tickets to be made available to family and associates of players and coaches. There will also be a small inventory for members of Wine & Gold United, the team’s official season ticket-based year-round membership club, as well as other team partners.

No fans will be allowed at the Cavaliers’ two pre-season home games on December 12 and December 14 to ensure the necessary health and operational precautions are taken.  

Cavaliers and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse chief executive Len Komoroski said: “We are thrilled to have Cavaliers basketball back inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse and look forward to treating any fans and guests in attendance to an exceptional home game experience in a safe, healthy and comfortable environment.

“We have the utmost confidence in our deep level of preparation and the health and safety measures in place, which have been reviewed by local health authorities, certified by leading venue consultants, and endorsed by the Cleveland Clinic. While this remains a journey, it is an important starting point for us with very limited fan access. At the same time, we hope access can grow over the course of the season as the associated health and safety landscape evolves and improves.”

So far, the San Antonio Spurs, Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz have detailed plans to welcome back fans. The Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks will start the season without fans.