The NBA and NHL’s decision to construct a secure environment in the hopes of finishing out their seasons was essentially an incredibly ambitious science experiment on an impressively grand scale. The country’s preeminent expert gave the plans his seal of approval, but everyone who entered the bubbles did so knowing they were serving as a subject in a test to prove the feasibility (or lack thereof) of the approach.
To say the gamble was a resounding success is almost an understatement, as both leagues were able to crown a champion without a single player testing positive over the duration of their stay. As a result, NHL fans were forced to grapple with the fact that Gary Bettman had earned a reason to be praised for possibly the first time over the course of his 17-year tenure as commissioner, while Adam Silver managed to further cement his status as the most competent man at the helm of any of North America’s biggest sports leagues.
Of course, renting out massive facilities and paying for the support staff required for them to function came at a cost, and according to Sports Business Daily, the NBA ultimately shelled out $180 million for everything that came with operating the bubble at Walt Disney World Resorts over the course of the 100 days it officially set up shop there. That might sound like a pretty steep tab but it pales in comparison to what it could’ve been forced to eat if it had declined to resume the suspended season, as a number of sources say the league managed to avoid losing upwards of $1.5 billion in revenue it would’ve missed out on thanks to the various television and endorsement deals currently in place.
The NBA will be performing an audit over the next month in an attempt to evaluate how much it (and individual teams) ultimately lost thanks to a lack of ticket sales and the variety of other factors involved as it plans for the future. There are also plenty of questions to answer about the long-term impact of the current situation and how the league plans to move forward if it fails to improve, but as was the case with the bubble, we’ll simply have to wait and see how everything plays out in the end.