And so we come to the close of Week 2 of Coronavirusworld, with still little way of knowing what Week 3 will bring, let alone Week 8 and beyond. (I just now started to write about this far less grim response to Tuesday’s London study, until I noticed none of the authors are infectious disease specialists and the claim that contact tracing can keep infections under control was cited to a single Chinese news story that said nothing of the sort, so maybe stay grim for the moment?) With pretty much all of the sports world now shut down, though — except for Australian Rules Football for some reason — sports journalists have begun looking down the road at longer-term effects of the pandemic, resulting in some useful and some not-so-useful reporting:
- All of California is now under “shelter-in-place” orders, which looks like it will shut down for the time being construction on the new Los Angeles Rams and Chargers stadium, as construction work is not considered an “essential” work task like medical services or food provision. So it’s up in the air whether the stadium will be ready by its planned opening this fall, though of course it’s also up in the air whether the NFL will be ready this fall. (Side note: I hope Gov. Andrew Cuomo lets New York City go on shelter-in-place soon, not just because it’s the best way to avoid a healthcare disaster, but because it’s been really hard to avoid all social contact and get work done at home when there’s a crew digging up the street outside my apartment every morning starting at 7:30 am.)
- The Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals are still locked in a legal battle over control of TV rights in their shared territory, which could only become more important if the pandemic results in TV becoming even more dominant as the way people watch sports (and the way sports teams make money).
- Speaking of TV, the NBA is reportedly still getting paid TV rights money even though play is suspended. I bet a whole lot of contract lawyers are either kicking themselves or patting themselves on the back right now for what clauses they wrote into deals regarding acts of God. (Note: Studies of God’s responsibility for the spread of coronavirus have yet to be peer-reviewed.)
- Here’s a New York Times article on how the loss of income from shutting down sports will affect various leagues, at least to the best of our knowledge without seeing all of their contract clauses.
- Of course there are articles about how shutting down sports will devastate local economies, whether it’s the cancellation of spring training or of the NCAA tournament or what. Pay no mind, I guess, to the fact that when spring training attendance dropped 60% during the replacement-players spring of 1995, there was no measurable economic impact on Florida — and pay even less mind to the fact that whether people are spending money on sports is way less important than whether coronavirus lockdowns will destroy the entire economy. Bad economics may be bad, but it’s easy to squeeze an article out of on deadline!
- The collapse of tourism will, however, take a particular hit on hotel tax revenues, which just happen to be what Nevada is planning to use to pay for its new Las Vegas Raiders stadium. The state has a year and a half of reserve funds, but if tourism never takes off again to the degree it was at before travel for pleasure became a distant memory, we could see some scrabbling under sofa cushions for where to find another few hundred million dollars.
- A “coalition of shipping, trucking and steel companies” is suing to stop the proposed Oakland A’s stadium at Howard Terminal from being fast-tracked through environmental review, at least if they can find any courts open during shelter-in-place.
- MLB teams have finally agreed to kick in $1 million each to pay stadium workers during the delay to the start of the season, though I haven’t been able to find details on how many weeks of lost income that will cover. They’re also paying minor leaguers $400 a week each through at least April 8, with an extension beyond that likely. (Yes, that’s next to nothing, but it’s the same next to nothing minor leaguers normally have to live on, so that’s … better? Worse? Definitely one of those.)
- And finally, here’s an article that won’t age well: A’s president Dave Kaval asking “a fan who has said he has tested positive for coronavirus” to throw out the first pitch at the team’s opening day, wherever that is. That’s gonna make for one crowded mound.