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The Carletonian

In wake of NBA lockout, Kanazawa predicts downtown MPLS to feel economic effects

<ckout has now entered its fourth month. And as the early November season tip-off approaches with no solution in sight, it is clear that fans won’t see the likes of Kevin Love, Dwayne Wade and Derrick Rose take the court any time soon.

Just last week, NBA Commissioner David Stern officially cancelled the first two weeks of the season. And since then, there has been no indication from the NBA owners or the NBA Player’s Association that either side is eager to end the lockout.

Most experts, including Professor of Economics Mark Kanazawa, who teaches courses on the economics of sports at Carleton, believe this lockout is “purely about distribution between owners and players.”

The owners want the players to accept a 50-50 split of all revenue, while the players are only willing to accept at minimum 53 percent. And although that 3 percent difference represents $150 million, in the grand scheme of NBA economics, it’s not all that much.

But the real story of the lockout is not found in big-city boardrooms filled with corporate lawyers and union representatives. Rather, it is found in the empty bars, restaurants and concession stands inside and around NBA venues like Minneapolis’ Target Center, where the Love and his fellow Timberwolves draw thousands of fans for 41 home games during the season.

Vendors can’t vend and custodians can’t clean. Ushers have no one to assist. Ticket-takers have nobody to greet. Bars and restaurants have fewer hungry (and thirsty) fans to serve. Kanazawa predicts that, should the lockout continue as expected, “we will see a concentrated, localized (economic) effect around the Target Center.”

Arena employees “will be the most heavily affected by the lockout… [since] the Target Center won’t be able to replace those games with other events,” explained Kanazawa. In this way, more than any other, our local metropolis will be affected by the arguments of millionaires and billionaires.

Thankfully, Kanazawa sees no negative effect on Northfield or suburban Minneapolis, but the loss of jobs and peripheral activity on those 41 home dates is certainly no recipe for financial success. And although Kanazawa believes that this lockout “is just a blip” on the NBA’s radar, he also recognizes that even one season without a job can be devastating in today’s economic environment.    

“The entertainment dollars…will be spent in other ways,” Kanazawa said. But that doesn’t mean employees won’t miss their jobs and businesses won’t miss the revenue.

After all, as exciting as it is to see Kevin Love pull down twenty rebounds per night, it is even more exciting to witness an economic engine work. As the players and owners continue to fight over millions of dollars, our nearest city will soon find itself dearly missing the economic electricity of the NBA.

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