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Leagues reeling from billion-dollar losses

By MURRAY GREIG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-11-23 09:12

A view of an empty suite prior to the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings at US Bank Stadium on November 22, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. [Photo/Agencies]

North America's four major pro sports organizations hit hard by coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic has cost North American pro sports billions of dollars, and with the United States the world's leading hot spot for the virus, the cash hemorrhage is projected to continue for months -perhaps years.

The National Football League is about halfway through its regular season with some teams playing home games to tens of thousands of fans, which has helped curb losses. On the other hand, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League have all crowned champions in 2020 and now are tabulating significant revenue hits.

Here's the lowdown on the biggest losers, according to New Yorkbased GoBankingRate and Team Marketing Report:


- New York Yankees: $438 million

Like the other 29 clubs, the Yankees played just 30 home games in the abbreviated 60-game regular season instead of 81, with no fans in the stands. Across MLB, losses from empty stadiums totaled around $5 billion, but no franchise took a bigger hit than the Yanks, whose game-day losses approached a half-billion dollars. Rated the second most valuable sports team on the planet behind the NFL's Dallas Cowboys by Forbes, the Yankees are the only MLB club whose home games generate more than $1 billion annually.

- Los Angeles Dodgers-$358 million

The World Series champions are second in terms of forfeited stadium revenue. Coming off a single-season franchise attendance record in 2019, the Dodgers remain MLB's second most valuable team behind the Yankees.

- Chicago Cubs: $354 million

Chicago was one of only three MLB teams to eclipse the $206 million luxury-tax threshold in 2019, with game-day revenue at Wrigley Field responsible for nearly 20 percent of total team value-a staggering $622 million.

- Boston Red Sox: $338 million

MLB's third most valuable club relied on stadium revenue for nearly one-fifth of its combined worth in 2019, or roughly $640 million.


- Los Angeles Lakers: $53 million

LeBron James and company pulled off a hard-fought win over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, but the team's coffers came up nearly $53 million short. The Lakers rank No 2 on the list of the NBA's most valuable teams, behind the lowly New York Knicks.

- New York Knicks -$45 million

The Big Apple boys missed eight home games due to the shutdown, and according to a calculation by The Athletic, that made them one of the biggest losers at the bank. Despite their woeful performance on the court, the Knicks remain the most valuable team in basketball, thanks to being in the world's largest and richest media market.


- Toronto Maple Leafs: $42 million

The Maple Leafs, who have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967, were hockey's runaway leaders in lost revenue this season, according to Statista. Nearly 30 percent of Toronto's revenue comes from its stadium, which translated to $423 million in 2019. Despite the Canadian dollar being significantly weaker than the US greenback, the Leafs are still among the NHL's most profitable teams thanks to premium seating revenue.


- Washington Football Team: $124 million

Starting with its Nov 8 game against the New York Giants, the team formerly known as the Redskins has allowed a few thousand fans in the stands, but according to Forbes it won't be enough to reverse a serious drain on revenues. As of the end of last season, stadium dollars accounted for just 14 percent of the franchise's total value.

- San Francisco 49ers: $112 million

Prior to the pandemic, the 49ers announced plans to increase ticket prices by $20 each, but soft drinks and food items like hot dogs would be free. The NFL's fifth most valuable franchise relies on its stadium for $553 million-less than 15 percent of its overall value.

- New York Giants-$110 million

Team Marketing Report predicts the Giants will forfeit nine figures in unrealized game-day stadium revenue this season after raking in a whopping $722 million in 2019.

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