The economy: boom or bust for sports?

Nevertheless, the impact is being felt. The New York Jets' auction of the best seats in their new stadium, which started out at $60,000 per seat, felt the bear-market drag and finished way short of its goal. The NFL has mentioned budget shortfalls.

Baseball just saw its first attendance drop in several years; the NBA announced layoffs and closing of its L.A. office. NASCAR is hard hit -- stock-car racing has seen a drop in both attendance and corporate sponsorships, with teams scrambling to cut over-blown expenses. Across the board, seats can be seen at many events, with construction of new facilities at risk, and fans having to cut back on gas, airline travel, hotel and motel. I imagine that the total TV-watching sports audience is sharply up.

On the international scene, the 2012 London Olympics reports it is having trouble nailing corporate sponsorships, and I'm sure there will be further woes for this event that already had shadows over it before Beijing. The 2009 Outgames in Copenhagen is coming up soon, and has also reported that corporate sponsors are hard to find. Travel costs for LGBT fans and athletes may also be an issue, with air fares soaring. One wonders how the 2010 Cologne Gay Games will be doing on that front.

Nevertheless, in a few quarters, some corporate owners seemed to have money to burn. In horse racing, at the Fasig-Tipton auction yesterday, a dissolving partnership put a string of top broodmares on the market. Better Than Honour, said to be the best mare in the world (dam of two Belmont Winners), brought a record $14 million. The auction grossed $70 million for 91 horses, with the average up from Fasig-Tipton's previous auction by nearly 35 percent. One wonders how many of these horse sales were quietly motivated by the need to trim costs, or find some cash to cover debt.

So...will sports perform like entertainment and weather the storm? For a possible answer, we can look at Hollywood, where the impact has been deep, with layoffs everywhere, and cutting back on development. Universal is moving to Long Beach, continuing the industry's flight from L.A. -- Patricia Nell Warren

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