Even in losing seasons, the Knicks were an economic slam-dunk for Madison
Square Garden and surrounding businesses.
But with all NBA games cancelled through the end of November -- and potentially longer if a contract deal between team owners and players isn't reached Saturday -- lucrative markets such as New York are going to be the real losers, observers said.
"From what I gather, there's no other [event] that does as well for the
Garden as the Knicks," said Robert Boland, an NYU sports business professor.
"The Garden ... in the larger sense can live for a month -- but every other [cancelled] game after is significant because they're losing their best product."
In addition, ad revenue lost from the cancelled Knicks games is another blow to MSG, Boland said. Garden officials declined to comment. Dan Biederman, president of the 34th Street Partnership, a business improvement district, couldn't say exactly how much business the Knicks bring to the area, but said at least one midtown bar has called the cancellation of games "disastrous."
Several others contacted by amNewYork are fuming over lost profits.
"We are losing the potential for at least 15-20% [of sales] on the night of a Knicks game," said Mark Carfi, a manager at Kabooz's bar and grill in Penn
Sean Ryan, general manager of Lucy's Cantina at 1 Penn Plaza, said business jumped after stars Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire joined the team last season.
"They need to get their stuff together," he complained of the owners and players. "Everyone's kind of like, 'Shut up and play.' There's a lot of money going around."
The NBA lockout began July 1, and the owners and players are currently at an impasse over how to split the league's revenue.
The last NBA lockout during the 1998-99 season resulted in teams only playing 50 games instead of the regular 82. At the time, the Knicks brought $30 million in economic activity to the city each month.
But there’s still a hunger to watch the Knicks, according to StubHub.com. While basketball ticket sales are down overall on the popular ticket-buying site, the planned Christmas game between the Knicks and the Celtics is currently the top-selling NBA game on the site, with several hundred sold, said StubHub spokeswoman Joellen Ferrer.
“New York is our top market, and it shows that fans are willing to hedge their bets and hope for the best,” she said.
(With Marc Beja)
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Economic impact of NBA lockout
By the numbers
$2 million: What some teams are losing for each cancelled game, including ticket sales, parking, concessions and sponsorships
$500,000: Minimum that teams are losing in ticket sales for each cancelled game
$1.5 million: Maximum that teams are losing in ticket sales for each cancelled game
$200 million: Combined salary loss for all NBA players during first two weeks of the lockout
Source: Horrow Sports Ventures; CBS Sports