Gary Bettman Says NHL Expects To Lose More Than $1 Billion In 2020-21 Season

The NHL is preparing for what they expect to be colossal financial losses this season.

In a call with reporters on Monday (via Scott Burnside of The Athletic), commissioner Gary Bettman revealed that the league projects to lose $1 billion for the 56-game season that begins on Wednesday.

“The magnitude of the loss starts with a ‘B’,” Bettman said, per Burnside.

Bettman explained that the cheaper option would have been to simply not play out the season at all. But he emphasized the importance of playing the season for the fans and players, via Frank Seravalli:

The league will experience a major drop in revenue due to the lack of attendance for most games this season. Right now, only the Arizona Coyotes, Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers plan to have a limited number of fans to open the 2020-21 home games.

At this time, it’s widely assumed that the vast majority of teams will play out their home games without any spectators.

Per Burnside, Bettman noted on the call that in-arena revenues account for nearly 50 percent of hockey revenues. This includes tickets and food/beverage sales.

The majority of NBA teams are playing without any fans right now. The league has already had to postpone several games due to COVID-19 outbreaks. The NHL has flexibility in their 2020-21 regular season schedule, so they’re in position to adjust games accordingly if teams have COVID-19 outbreaks.

The league realigned its four divisions for the shortened 56-game regular season. All seven Canadian teams will play in the North Division (the Canada-U.S. border is still closed for non-essential travel). The league also implemented the East and West Divisions while realigning the “Central” Division.

The regular season is scheduled to conclude on May 8. The league hopes to finish the Stanley Cup Final in July, before the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan begin on July 23.

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