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The NBA expects to lose a massive amount of revenue this season due to the impact of a coronavirus outbreak that could soon force the league’s 30 teams to play games in empty arenas.
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NBA executives held a teleconference Wednesday in which team owners “shared a consensus” that games would likely proceed without fans in attendance for precautionary reasons, ESPN reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. Commissioner Adam Silver is expected to concur and will make a decision Thursday.
The league expects revenue losses totaling hundreds of millions of dollars due to coronavirus-related complications, according to the report. The NBA and National Basketball Players Association met earlier Wednesday to discuss contingency plans.
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Some NBA teams have already moved toward limiting fan attendance. The Golden State Warriors said their home game Thursday against the Brooklyn Nets would be played without a crowd after San Francisco officials enacted a ban on mass gatherings. All events at the Chase Center, the Warriors’ home court, are postponed through March 21.
The coronavirus outbreak added to what has been a difficult year for the NBA. The league already suffered a financial setback last fall after Chinese sponsors cut ties en masse over Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
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The dispute was expected to cost up to $200 million in revenue this year, ESPN previously reported. The financial impact was such that the NBA slashed its salary cap projections in January to account for the loss.
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U.S. sports leagues have taken various precautionary measures to protect players and the public from coronavirus. The NBA previously joined other leagues in barring media access to locker rooms until further notice.
Earlier Wednesday, the NCAA announced that its March Madness basketball tournaments would take place without fans in attendance.
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