SBJ/Jan. 10-16, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA meeting to focus on lockout

The NBA will hold its annual marketing meeting this week in New York with top team and league marketing officials poised to discuss the impact of a potential lockout on next year’s business.

Typically, the annual marketing meeting focuses on business plans for the upcoming season, with the league also recognizing teams boasting top total season-ticket sales, new full-season-ticket sales, local sponsorships sales and other business-related metrics from the current year.

But this year’s meeting, to be held at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, will also begin to address questions regarding how the league will deal with season-ticket holders and sponsors given the possibility of a lockout.

Some NBA teams begin their season-ticket renewal efforts as early as late January and the league soon must contend with how to renew and attract season-ticket buyers with no sign of a new collective-bargaining agreement in sight. This season, the NBA set a record for new full-season-ticket sales revenue of more than $100 million with more than 50,000 new full-season tickets sold. The league also has a season-ticket renewal rate of more than 80 percent.

“Any time we get our team executives together, we discuss the relevant issues impacting our business as well as share best practices on working more efficiently and creating the best possible fan experience,” said Chris Granger, executive vice president of team marketing and business operations for the NBA.

It is expected that shortly after the marketing meeting, NBA teams will begin to communicate with season-ticket holders on next year’s season-ticket policies.
During the NBA’s lockout in 1998-99 that resulted in a 50-game regular season, teams gave season-ticket holders refunds plus interest. It is likely that the teams would follow a similar strategy should there be a lockout when the current CBA expires on June 30. NBA Commissioner David Stern said in late October that the league will begin to feel the financial impact over the labor uncertainty around the league’s All-Star break in mid-February.

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