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NBA and NHL Could Face Extended Shutdowns as Coronavirus Pandemic Continues

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It could be months before the NBA and NHL resume action, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends cancelling events of 50 or more people over the next eight weeks amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, the CDC issued revised guidelines in response to coronavirus–also known as COVID-19–that included a recommendation of cancelling events with 50 or people for the next eight weeks. Although the guidance is not technically a mandate, it does raise questions about if or when the NBA and NHL could lift their indefinite suspensions and resume play.

If the guidelines were followed, it would mean at a minimum that games could not be played before fans until after mid-May. However, it seems that the NBA is preparing for a shutdown that in the best-case scenario would last until mid-to-late June, which would mean extending the playoffs well into August. More from ESPN:

NBA owners are awaiting the league’s financial projections on lost revenues, which are expected to be shared with them soon, sources said. J.B. Lockhart, the NBA’s chief financial officer, has been leading the effort to deliver owners what all expect to be challenging financial projections on a short-term future that is thick with uncertainty and volatility.

The NBA likely will provide projections on three primary scenarios: the financial costs of shutting down the season, restarting with no fans in the arena, or playing playoff games with fans. Those losses will be reflected in next season’s salary cap and the players’ share of basketball-related income.

For now, there’s a working plan that games would return without fans, and teams have been told to search out arena dates well into August for the playoffs, sources said. Teams have been directed to give the league office potential dates at smaller nearby game venues, including team practice facilities, that could spare the use of empty, cavernous arenas and possibly provide backdrops to unique television viewing lines.

Just when the season could begin or resume remains an unanswered questions for many circuits, with MLB and MLS among the other major professional sports leagues facing the possibility of an extended shutdown as public health officials and elected leaders try to respond to the growing crisis.

There is more at stake for arena operators than just the resumption of the sports season: the busier major arenas now feature more events like concerts and trade shows than they do sporting events. So the CDC’s revised guidelines poses a double whammy for teams that manage their own arenas, like the Golden State Warriors and Chase Center.

With hourly news about the spread of the coronavirus impacting the sports-business and facilities industries, it’s more important than ever to stay up with the latest news in the venues industry. That’s why we’re launching a new Venues Digest newsletter focusing on coronavirus information across the ballparks, arenas, stadiums, theater and performing-arts worlds. For now it will appear daily, and for now it will be free of charge. Sign up here.

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