Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said his team would lose at least $10 million this season, offering the first glimpse into how much money the suspension of the season might cost National Basketball Association franchises.
“It’ll be eight digits,” the former Microsoft Corp. chief executive officer said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Friday. “Now you’ve got to start with what we we’re either going to make or lose before the season started, but net, net, net, it’ll certainly be an eight-digit loss for us.”
The NBA suspended its season on March 11 after a player tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. Since then, the U.S. has become the worldwide epicenter of the pandemic, with more than 100,000 people infected, surpassing China and Italy.
The NBA is working on a number of possible scenarios in which it can play at least a portion of the regular season and playoffs, Ballmer said.
“It’d be great to play some basketball, but only if the time is right and the circumstances are right,” he said.
Ballmer is the wealthiest NBA owner, with a net worth of $55.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He bought the club for $2 billion in 2014.
Ballmer said he is paying team and arena employees, as well as vendors, even though games aren’t being played. He specifically cited a T-shirt vendor that had gotten a $100,000 commitment from the team to produce playoff merchandise.
“We are being diligent about continuing to pay our employees. We’re fortunate. We’re deep pocketed,” he said. “Yes, we’ll lose money. At the same time that’s going to be true for a lot of businesses. I’ve been very fortunate.”
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