NBA's Cancellation Of Preseason Schedule Comes With 'Collateral Damage' For Arena Workers, Neutral Sites

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Unless you possess the gift of limitless optimism, this was probably expected: the NBA canceled 43 preseason games today and more bad news could be on the horizon.

NBA postpones camps, cancels 43 preseason games - NBA - Yahoo! Sports
NBA.com’s schedule page...was changed Friday morning to read "0 Games" for each date until Oct. 16, when there are four games.

Those could be in jeopardy, too, without an agreement by the end of this month or very early October. The league scrapped the remainder of its preseason schedule on Oct. 6 in 1998, when the regular season was reduced to 50 games.

This is probably no big deal for most of us who assumed significant loss of games for the second time in league history - in fact, you can probably count me among those who has grown almost indifferent to the daily ins and outs of this mess.

But it is a big deal for those employees of the league who don't have savings from multimillion dollar contracts to fall back on as Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com suggested on Twitter.

The league itself already laid off 114 workers back in July in a move that was supposedly not caused by the lockout but related to its core issues. But today is the day that arena workers and others that make game days happen officially know that they'll be without at least a portion of their income.

The Oklahoma City media has been watching this issue most closely it seems and perhaps that provides a snapshot of what might be at stake league-wide. While 700 people apparently work per Oklahoma City Thunder game, the arena has a total employment of 1,100 workers, according to Adam Mertz of KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City.

NBA lockout could affect arena workers - KFOR
If games are canceled, there is a chance they would work fewer hours.

"If we do lose games, no one would lose their jobs. There would just be some less hours to go around for our part time staffers," Linville said.

Howard-Cooper adds that the cancellation of games at neutral sites in particular will have an impact - "collateral damage" - not only on small towns like Fargo, Minnesota, but also bigger cities like Anaheim and San Diego. Although it's hard to quantify the value of things like exposure to NBA fans watching the games or cross-promotion opportunities for local fans, the concrete losses suffered by cities - and thus local employees - from these lost games is still significant.

Loss of preseason games would hurt neutral-site cities | NBA.com

Cole Carley, president and chief executive officer of the Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the Bucks-Timberwolves game set for Oct. 22 in Fargo, N.D., is worth $150,000 to the city for every 1,000 fans who come from out of town. The night could have easily turned into a $500,000 windfall in that calculation, thanks to spending on hotels, restaurants, transportation and perhaps that greatest of all welcome mats, tourism taxes...Full-time NBA homes will get more games again, eventually, but missing out on the rare occurrences is a specific body blow to the neutral-site hosts that may have to wait several years for the next visit.

Let's be honest: for most of us, all of this really is merely collateral damage to the big loss of a season of games we're passionate about. The reality is that we care more about watching them play than we do about the person who pours our overpriced beer during the games.

Most of us probably consider watered down beer as inconsequential to our lives.

But in acknowledging the extent of this "collateral damage" it's not difficult to see that the people hurt most in this whole ordeal are the workers who often take on these jobs as a means to make ends meet. The words of Kathy Blandford, a former usher at Warriors games, from a November 1998 lockout article by David Steele sum up the unfortunate situation best.

"A lot of us do have other jobs," said Blandford, who said she has worked at events at the arena and coliseum for more than 20 years. "But we have a lot of retired people. For some, it's their lone source of income. We have women who have Social Security, and that's it. Without this, they can't make it.

"But...they don't care about us...We have a lot of people here to whom this is important and you've got guys making $18 million a year. Patrick Ewing (the players association president) is on TV saying, 'We're fighting for our survival.'

She paused: "It's sad."

For more development on the NBA lockout, visit the SBN NBA storystream.

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