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NBA’s Lakers stand firm in economic stand

LAKERS

So far, so good for the high-flying Los Angeles Lakers, whose impressive on-court form this season has been matched by their robust resistance to the global financial crisis.

Although the U.S. recession has forced the National Basketball Association and the National Football League to cut jobs and Major League Baseball to freeze budgets, the Lakers have been remarkably unaffected.

While their players have again set the standard in the Western Conference with a stirring win-loss record of 25-5, Lakers’ home attendances and the number of season ticket holders for 2008-09 have held firm.

“As of this point, we have not been adversely affected but we feel fortunate that this is the case,” John Black, vice president of public relations for the Lakers, told Reuters.

“If the current economic climate continues to worsen, at some point we would imagine it will impact us in some way, as it is doing or will do with most every other business in the country.

“We have been very fortunate and have sold out each of our 17 home games so far this season. And our season ticket renewal rate for the current season was 99 percent, which we are also very pleased with.”

Although the NBA slashed 80 jobs from its U.S. workforce in October because of the financial downturn, Black does not expect the Lakers to follow suit.

“We have not laid off any staff, nor do we have any plans to do so,” he said.

Asked whether the economic crisis might change the way in which the Lakers coaching staff would be able to work with their players, Black replied: “Finances and economics would not impact the relationships between coaches and players.”

GLITZY LAKERS

Ranked by Forbes magazine as the second most valuable team in the NBA behind the New York Knicks, the glitzy Lakers have long been regarded as recession-proof.

Home games at the Staples Canter in downtown Los Angeles are regularly watched by Hollywood actors such as Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington and Cameron Diaz and rising prices do not appear to be too much of an issue for Lakers stalwarts.

“I don’t know if we would use the term ‘recession-proof’ in describing our franchise,” Black said.

“We certainly do not take for granted the tremendous support we have received, and are continuing to receive, from our loyal fans and corporate partners.”

Lakers fan Bryan Gore, a 45-year-old business consultant who lives in Orange County, does not expect to cut back on the number of games he watches because of the recession.”It isn’t really going to affect me,” he told Reuters. “I’m not a season ticket holder and I usually get tickets from friends or business contacts.

“I’m prepared to pay a couple of hundred dollars per ticket and once in a while I don’t mind paying a bit more to get a good seat or get into a big game.

“In LA, I think only big ticket numbers are really going to affect people,” Gore added. “All these people at Staples Center are long-time fans, and there is a fair amount of disposable income that’s still left around here.”

Led by league MVP Kobe Bryant, the Lakers return to action on Friday when they host the Utah Jazz for their first game of 2009. Once again, the Staples Center is certain to be packed.

January 4, 2009 Posted by | news | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment