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Volume 26 No. 181
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Fertitta To Trump: "Momentum Is Building" For NBA's Return

Rockets Owner Tilman Fertitta during a roundtable White House meeting with restaurant execs told President Trump that "momentum is building for the NBA to resume its season," according to Jonathan Feigen of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Fertitta was giving his presentation yesterday about how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted Landry’s Inc. when Trump "asked if the NBA will return this season." Fertitta responded, "What they’re doing is waiting to see what happens in certain states and if we’re going to be able to play, making sure the virus continues to go in the right direction in the next few weeks. If things keep going the way that it’s going the past few weeks, I think the NBA, commissioner Adam Silver -- who has done an unbelievable job through this -- and the 30 owners will make the decision to try to start the season up again.” Trump then "asked if the NBA will finish its regular season or move directly to the playoffs." Fertitta: "There’s talk about finishing the season, playing X amount of games. The players need to play to get paid. Right now, they’re taking a 25 percent pay cut. They own 50 percent of our revenues, the players, unlike the other sports. So they want that revenue, the television revenue, even if it’s not the ‘people in the stands’ revenue, so they can get paid. I think we would play games just to get it going again and create the interest and then go right into the playoffs" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/19).

RESTAURANT REPORT: Fertitta, the billionaire CEO of Landry’s, asked President Trump and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to create an additional category to the Paycheck Protection Program for the “larger private restaurateur” and to “do something with lease terminations” to provide his company financial relief during the pandemic. Fertitta explained that he had to "lay off 40,000 employees from his chain of full-service restaurants in March and that he had recently borrowed '$300 million at 12 percent' interest because he 'needed the liquidity to keep the company afloat.'" Fertitta also told Trump that he had "applied for and received PPP funding for Landry’s but that he 'sent it back and did not spend a dollar of it' because he had been criticized for the layoffs and was worried that he would be perceived as 'that billionaire who took the money from the little business'" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/19).