Players and owners will meet again today with the threat of a lockout more imminent than ever, but the league’s collective bargaining agreement expires tonight at midnight and the sides don’t seem close to reaching a deal. As the Globe’s Shira Springer wrote for Page One this morning, after meeting Tuesday in Dallas, today’s session in New York seems more preparing for the inevitable. Along with the toll a lockout will take on the league’s public image as well as the lessons the NBA should have learned from the NFL, which is more than 100 days into its own work stoppage, Springer looked at the economic blow Boston will take should the lockout cost the league games.
Each Celtics home game at the TD Garden results in about $420,000 of outside-the-arena consumer spending for eating and drinking, retail, hotels, transportation and parking, according to the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Add in tickets sales and Garden concessions, which have an economic impact on arena workers and local suppliers, and the number jumps to $1.8 million per game.
“Fans will look at the NBA and say, ‘Haven’t you learned from the NFL?’ ’’ said Kathleen Hessert, founder and CEO of reputation management company Sports Media Challenge, whose clients have included the NBA and NFL, as well as NBA and NFL players. “Fans will be soured on sports if a second league goes this same route. They’ll think, ‘What’s with you guys? You’ve got a storybook life and nothing’s good enough for you, and we’re struggling just to stay above water.’”
Teams won’t be able to have any contact with players during the work stoppage. They won’t even be able to use players’ likenesses on their websites. Around the league, teams and players are preparing accordingly. Many of the Celtics, including Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal, spent as much time as possible in the Celtics practice facility taking advantage of the training staff before doors were closed to them. The last time the league locked its players out was 1998. Play didn’t resume until January 1999, shortening the season by 32 games.