It has been 20 days since the last pro sports game was played. There were five NHL games on March 11th. Four NBA games were played and two were cancelled. It seems like yesterday that I was sitting in the press box when I read the NBA had postponed the game between the Utah Jazz and OKC Thunder. As I watched the Oilers lose 4-2 to the Jets, more information kept coming in and the game seemed second nature. The NBA announced they wouldn’t play anymore games, and the NHL made the same announcement the following day.
How long until sports resumes with fans in the stands? I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone does.
1. Pro leagues in North America, specifically the NBA, were closely monitoring the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). Today the Chinese government announced they are restricting the resumption of team sports. The big issue is asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19. They carry the virus, but show no symptoms. Now, it is fair to question the validity of China’s government. Many question if their total number of COVID-19 infections has been reported accurately. Many suspect they haven’t. The reality is no country has accurate numbers, because not everyone has been tested. Regardless of who has been tested or not, I do believe other governments will monitor what other countries do in regards to playing team sports.
2. COVID-19 will alter how we live in North America. I don’t think there is any question about that, it is just how much, and what, it will alter. The longer this goes the tougher it will be on our economy, but it will not break us. We are very resilient and I think most people will come together and just change how we view things. It will be challenging. I will openly admit I’m concerned. It is okay to be concerned about you and your family. But I encourage you to remain positive and believe in yourself. You are stronger than you think and when facing adversity you will realize you have more strength and courage than you had. We are much stronger doing this together and supporting each other. Reach out to your friends and family. Make sure they know you are there for them, and if you need help or just someone to vent to, make sure you reach out. You will be amazed at how many people will listen and support you.
3. This season the NHL had $2.5 billion in player salaries, which was supposed to be 50% of overall revenue. With the postponement of the regular season, 189 games, and likely cancellation of most of those games, and possibly the playoffs, this year’s revenue will be lower. If no more regular season games are played that is 14.8% of the season lost, plus about 88 playoff games (last five years the NHL averaged 88 playoff games). That would be a total of 20% of the entire season missed.
4. It’s essentially about $500 million in lost salary cap space, which would be the equivalent of $16.2 million per team. I think it is a fair projection to suggest about 20% of overall revenue will be lost if the remainder of the regular season and playoffs are cancelled. That is a massive drop, and if next season is able to start on time I don’t see how teams will be able to charge the same amount for tickets and food and beverage. Fans will want to go to games, but our disposable income will be much less. People won’t be able to just spend $500 to $1,000 per game. I don’t see how that is realistic.
5. I think people will watch sports on TV as much, if not more, than before, and listening to sports talk radio and games on the radio will be popular, but watching games live will be a luxury that many simply won’t be able to afford at the current price points. The leagues and player’s associations will need to work together and they need to start preparing now and brace for the reality COVID-19 will have on their fans’ finances. I believe there will be a major financial reset in sports.
6. I think the passion of fans will be heightened. They will want to absorb as much sporting content as they can, but the cost to go will deter many. They will read, listen and watch sports, but going to games will be a different experience. The Oilers weren’t selling out every game this season, and the team was in second place. They were winning. They have the top-two scorers in the league, yet due to the economy fans weren’t going because the prices were too high. The Oilers, and other franchises, and league who rely on gate revenue, need to prepare for a different future. The finances of sports will change once we are past COVID-19.
7. This is not a good look for Mr. Wilson.
You get paid by @espn for this drivel??
No budget for fact checking during challenging times eh? No layoffs? https://t.co/9XamsgAa8F
— * W. Brett Wilson * (@WBrettWilson) March 31, 2020
Using the term donation suggests the building is a charity. I’d hope he didn’t mean it that way, but in no form should a building that the team generates revenue from be construed as a charity. The Flames get almost all of the revenue on all event nights. The city gets 2% of ticket revenue during events, but that is capped at $3 million a year for the first five years. The city will also receive $250,000 a year for the first 10 years for naming rights. Wilson does a lot of great philanthropic work in his community, but this tweet was ill-advised. Many Albertans are very concerned about their finances, and trying to tell them the Flames are simply donating money, when they are making millions in the process (which is fine since we know that is what pro sports teams do), is a terrible take during a highly stressful time for all of us.
8. Connor Bedard was granted exceptional status and will be eligible for the WHL draft this season. Bedard is only the seventh player to have exceptional status, after Connor McDavid, John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Joe Veleno, Sean Day and Shane Wright this year. Wright had 39-27-66 in 58 games with Kingston in the Ontario Hockey League. Bedard is easily the smallest of the seven, standing 5’8 and 165 pounds. I don’t understand why people feel the need to rush players at 15 to Major Junior. Day was a third round pick in the NHL. Veleno was the 30th pick, while the other three were all #1 picks. We will see where Wright goes in two years. It helped three of the five so far.
9. Considering most players never played at 15 it is clear their development didn’t require them to be in Major Junior when they were 15. What is the negative to staying in Midget? And don’t tell me he won’t learn anything there, because 99% of NHL players did and they all eventually went to the NHL. I hope Bedard has success and it works out, but I think the risk outweighs the reward.
10. Let’s end on a positive. A listener to my radio show, who asked to remain anonymous, wanted to help the Edmonton Food Bank. We will call him Rufus McPlaid.
He is willing to donate up to a total of $10,000. Which is amazing. If we raise can raise $6000 it will add up to $16,000. Here is how it works.
For $1-$3,000 Rufus will match dollar for dollar. We raise $3,000 he matches with $3,000. Total of $6,000.
From $3,001-$5,000 Rufus will match two to one. We raise $2,000 he matches with $4,000. Total of $6,000.
From $5,001-$6,000 he will match three to one. We raise $1,000, he matches with $3,000. Total of $4,000.
So that equals us raising $6,000 and Rufus donating $10,000.
He is a self-employed engineer and in 1998 he got pneumonia and was fired. He was sick for about a year and went bankrupt (no EI). Rufus said, “Back then, I occasionally made use of the Food Bank. It is a real benefit to our city and region.”
He knows many are struggling now due to COVID-19 so he wanted to help. Awesome. Let’s do our part and make him donate $10,000.
You can donate here. My goal is to raise $1,500 a day for the next four days and we can reach our goal. Everyone who donates will get a tax receipt. The Edmonton Food Bank helps many, and as Rufus mentioned sometimes you don’t know when you will need it, but when he did they helped.
Thanks in advance.
OODLE NOODLE IS OPEN FOR TAKE-OUT AND DELIVERY
Are you out of the house and hungry? We’re offering 15% off on all pick-up orders at all locations. To order pick up, call into the store directly or order at the till. If you’re staying in and practicing your social distancing, no-contact delivery is available at www.oodlenoodle.ca.
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