Slowly But Surely, The Sports Bubble Is Popping

Suppose you’ve got a product that exists in a relatively finite market. Its value is directly related to the amount of money it can generate, whether by its own sale or by the sales it can generate while in your possession. Suppose that you, as an owner, enter into obligations based on that projected value or the projected sale. Then, this being America in 2009, the bottom completely drops out of that market, and you’re left in a financially untenable situation with an “asset” that suddenly isn’t worth nearly what you expected. So, are we talking about home owners, banks, and mortgages… or the professional sports landscape?

Empty Arena
(Look behind Derrick Rose. You see a fellow Bull, three Charlotte Bobcats, and about six of their fans.)

Bill Simmons recently released an impressive column detailing the woeful state of affairs in the NBA from a balance sheet perspective (seriously, it’s a must-read). Obviously, nobody’s going to give him hard numbers; if even 20% of Simmons’ anecdotes and predictions are true, it would be an open call for investors and partners of franchises to flee in terror. But Simmons has enough to forecast a coming dark era for the league, and probably the rest of American sports as well. The, ahem, money quote* is after the jump. Read more…

Crisis: NBA Teams To Suspend Operations Soon?

BALL DON’T LIE published these photos from last night’s game between the much-improved Hawks and moribund Memphis at Philips Arena in Atlanta:

Atlanta Memphis play in front of friends and relatives

We’re all aware that the Hawks have never drawn well, but an attendance shortfall like last night is still appalling. And those terrible turnouts are being mirrored all over the NBA in markets like Memphis, Charlotte and even former attendance stalwart Sacramento.

It’s bad. Really bad. Worse than ever before. And with 40% of America’s net worth having vanished overnight, the NBA is in for more hard times in 2009.  Yet, David Stern still claims the league’s attendance figures really aren’t all that bad. (Yeahright.)

It’s so bad that I think the NBA may soon resemble the automotive industry’s Big Three.

How so? Read more…

NBA Preseason Attendance Has Fallen Off a Cliff

The NBA preseason is upon us, with the NHL exhibition season having just wrapped. Of course, with preseason comes neutral site games, and the NHL cleaned up recently in Vegas, as the LAS VEGAS SUN and SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY report, “the September 27 Avalanche-Kings NHL preseason game at the 17,157-seat MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, which took place on a Saturday night opposite a Nevada-UNLV college football game at Sam Boyd Stadium, drew an announced crowd of 12,013 fans.

NBA Dancers With Lowrise Jeans

(NBA needs more of these … in seats that is)

Meanwhile, last Sunday in NBA preseason action in Vegas, the Lakers played the Sac Kings, who are owned by the Maloofs (who own and operate The Palms hotel in Sin City.

The attendance:  A god-awful 11,090. The number is disappointing to say the last, considering the Maloofs’ presence in town and the city’s proximity to Los Angeles. So Kobe & Co. can’t draw in Vegas? But what about Lebron in Pittsburgh tonight - just a two-hour drive from Cleveland?

Uh, you don’t want to know about that one either.

Read more…