Monday, October 31, 2011

NBA Lockout Takes Toll on Boston Economy

By Zach Baru

How can 41 basketball games a year effect the lives of 600,000 people in Boston?  It's simple.  It's economics.

You don't really need to know anything about sports.  And no, you definitely don't need to know the number of fouls a player is allowed in a basketball game.  All you need to know is that the Boston Celtics generate a substantial amount of money for the Boston economy.  So much in fact, that if one was to attempt to determine a value, it would be more of a lie than an estimate.  

The Boston Celtics were scheduled to play 41 home games this season.  With the loss of 18,624 fans entering the TD Garden, a downward effect begins on the Boston economy.  So much has been made of the effects to the North End, but the impact is felt in areas where the arena is nowhere to be found.  

The effects begin with the loss of state tax revenue being generated from any sale relating to the game.  Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority takes a hit from the loss of ridership on its subways and commuter rail, both of which carry fans directly into North Station and the TD Garden.  Outside the arena, restaurants and bars count on the games to bring in fans before and after games.  The neighborhood also includes hotels which attract fans and media looking for a place to stay within walking distance from the Garden.

As the North End economy takes quite a hit, the people working in it do as well.  The pain can be felt by more than the business owners, but by the many employees as well.  This is where the problem starts to hit home.  The NBA lockout is much more than a sports related story, this is a true economic issue. 

Sports can often be overlooked as simply a game.  But indeed, it is much more.  In fact, the business of sports can be important to more than just the franchise owners and their players.  Sports business and economics are very much related to one another.  Each playing their own roles in the Boston economy. 

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and emailed at


  1. You may want to get your numbers right- they play 41 home games not 81.