Report: NBA season will only resume without fans, could cost staggering revenue hit

By Matt Johnson
Oct 23, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the press during the 2023 NB All-Star announcement at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The COVID-19 pandemic has already delivered a crushing blow to the revenue of many professional sports leagues. Now, as the NBA starts planning for a way to bring the season back, the league is anticipating even greater economic hits will be coming.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, commissioner Adam Silver told players on Friday that even if the season resumes, fans are not expected to be in attendance. It’s a move that will be especially costly given the NBA estimates 40% of its revenue comes from fans attending games and buying things at stadiums.

Silver also informed players that a decision on whether or not the 2019-’20 season will resume may not be made until June, pushing back a potential start date even further than initially expected. Furthermore, per Adrian Wojnarowski, fans might not be allowed to attend games next season until a vaccine for the coronavirus is available.

The NBA remains without a timetable for a return for a variety of reasons. Among them, there will likely be no coronavirus vaccine for a year and everyone will be at risk of getting the virus. The league also wants there to be a surplus of COVID-19 testing kits available, which is far away from becoming a reality.

League officials are still looking into every possibility to resume the season. The NBA has discussed Walt Disney World in Florida and the Las Vegas Strip. In both cases, with games being held on various indoor courts, fans would not be allowed to attend any of the games.

The NBA was already expected to take a hit to its revenue due to the situation with China earlier this season. The COVID-19 pandemic only multiplied the economic blow the league will suffer and the numbers will be staggering even if the season can resume. If the NBA isn’t able to return in 2020, which remains a possibility, the league will lose billions of dollars.