Economics: NBA Lockout Tentatively Over, a Look Back at How Much We Have Lost

Gil ImberAnalyst IINovember 26, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10:  NBA Commissioner David Stern speaks at a press conference after the NBA and NBA Player's Association met to negotiate the CBA at The Helmsley Hotel on November 10, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The NBA lockout may finally be over—tentatively speaking, that is.

NBA commissioner David Stern recently mentioned he is optimistic that "the NBA season will begin Dec. 25."

Stern said the players and owners have reached a "tentative understanding that is subject to a variety of approvals."

In other words, the players and owners must still agree to terms, though a deal has been reached, in theory. For instance, the NBA needs 15 owners to still vote to end the lockout while the players union needs 50.1 percent of the vote from its 430-plus membership to pass the resolution.

According to the NBA's Steve Aschburner, 15 hours of post-Thankgiving negotiations have resulted in a potential end to the lockout that has dominated talks since early this past summer.

The league is tentatively entertaining the thought of a 66-game regular season. A normal NBA season lasts 82 games, which would place the 2011-2012 season at a 16-game loss.

Here is a brief look back at what else we've lost during the extended labor dispute and work stoppage:

  • One month, 24 days without basketball. The regular season's originally scheduled Nov. 1 kick-off was postponed in October, weeks after the entire preseason was cancelled and about a month after the first few weeks of the preseason was wiped out.
  • Over $40 million lost by local businesses in New York City alone. Many sports bars that would ordinarily be serving drinks to Knicks and other basketball fans have seen their bars empty. As one sports bar owner observed, "When there is nothing to play on your TVs, it's boring for customers."
  • Around 30 percent of local business employees have been laid off or had their schedules reduced while job seekers have gone without employment, thanks to the lockout. One New York bar that ordinarily operates with 140 employees during basketball season was forced to reduce staffing to just 100 employees in the face of the lockout.
  • A majority—if not all—arena and stadium employees have been without their normal job selling hot dogs or mopping up soda spills since the lockout began: no game, no work. Though Danny Granger famously held one dinner for all Conseco Fieldhouse employees in October, that is not nearly enough to sustain people whose livelihoods depend on receiving that sports-related paycheck.
  • An extremely significant economic loss for Las Vegas sports books. When the NFL season was still in jeopardy, some analysts predicted upwards of an $850 million loss for Vegas casinos and sports books. And that doesn't include the bettors who make a living wagering on the teams.
  • Local cities themselves lose the ability to collect taxes and receive other stipends and payouts from holding regular games in their basketball arenas. For instance, the NFL Players' Association had estimated a loss of $160 million per city for a cancelled season. In the NFL, that breaks down to $20 million per game.


The Bottom Line

Though the fans may be sick and tired of the NBA's horse and pony show, those who have suffered the most—such as stadium employees and local businesses—are celebrating.

They might still record a loss on the season—the lockout's negative economic impact has been significant—but bringing back the NBA on Dec. 25 is a lot more of a Christmas present than losing an entire season of basketball—and the money that comes with it.