Top Menu

NBA lays off 90; teams scramble to respond to economy

Signs that the economic slowdown is affecting the sports world: National Basketball Association head David Stern announced the league is laying off 9 percent of its staff, while teams offer innovative pricing plans to get fans in the door.
Showing that the sports world isn’t immune to problems in the greater economy, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the league would be laying off 80 employees, or about 9 percent of its total workforce.

"We made the decision some months ago that the economy was going to be a bit wobbly so we began a belt-tightening," Stern told AP. He suggested the league as a whole would be suffering from the global economic meltdown as well.

"My guess is that by the time we tip off in a week or so, we will be down modestly in season tickets. … We think we’ll be up in revenue, but I just can’t say for sure whether we’ll be up or down in attendance because it’s just so touch-and-go, because sports tickets are very much disposable income," he said. "So, we’re not going to see a huge impact, but I dare say we will see some impact."

That impact is being felt by nervous team owners, who are bracing for lower attendance and decreased sponsorships. Many are just waiting, while some are taking proactive steps: The New Jersey Nets, for instance, instituted a play now, pay later ticket plan where fans won’t be on the hook for payments on season tickets used now until January 5 (after bonus season). That’s helped the Nets staunch losses on season-ticket renewals, which had dipped to the 80 percent level in recent seasons.