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NBA lockout could disrupt arena industry

NBAIf NBA owners impose a player lockout at the end of the season, it could throw the arena industry into turmoil — but it could also draw some unexpected artists on the road for new arena tours.

In Orlando, bookers at Amway Center will wait until August 1 to issue a final fall schedule, giving the league some time to work out its labor difficulties. (Indeed, one theme throughout the current lockout talk is that it will happen but will be short, paving way for the 2011-2012 season.) Though the issue is still largely under the radar (despite the players union filing an unfair labor charge against the NBA, discussion of a potential lockout is eerily absent from television playoff coverage), it should emerge in fill force once the NBA Finals end in the next few weeks.

Which leaves planners like Allen Johnson, executive director of venues for the city of Orlando, up in the air in terms of a fall schedule. The Orlando Magic have first crack at those desirable weekend dates; take the Magic out of the mix (though their rent will remain) and the city has a lot of flexibility in bringing in the likes of Kenny Chesney and Prince, artists guaranteed to sell out Amway Center. There are rumblings of some surprise tours possible in the winter as well if the NBA remains shut down — and that’s good news for arena operators.

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