Delivering Alpha

Nets owner Joseph Tsai sees next season as 'tricky' but expects a 'very nice rebound'

Key Points
  • Brooklyn Nets owner Joseph Tsai said he sees challenges ahead for the NBA next season and doesn't expect full arenas.
  • However, he expects that a vaccine plus testing procedures will make future seasons less of a problem.
  • Tsai spoke at the Delivering Alpha conference presented by CNBC and Institutional Investor.
Joseph Tsai speaking during the 2020 Delivering Alpha conference on Sept. 30th, 2020.

Brooklyn Nets owner Joseph Tsai envisions arenas still without a lot of fans next season though he expects that to turn around in the ensuing years.

"The next season is going to be a little tricky because we don't anticipate having a lot of fans or having a full … arena anytime soon," Tsai said Wednesday during the Delivering Alpha conference presented by CNBC and Institutional Investor. "But guess what? The following season, 2022, 2023, we look for a very nice rebound."

The NBA is in the midst of a playoff season following a season in a "bubble," in which games were played without fans and player movements were restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Though the Nets managed to make the post-season, they were swept out and hired Steve Nash as their new coach.

Tsai, also the co-founder and executive chairman of China-based marketplace Alibaba, said the Nets "did pretty well in the bubble" despite the disappointing end to the season.

Teams across the sports spectrum have faced diminishing revenues due to the lack of spectators allowed at most events, but Tsai said he remains encouraged that fan interest remains high.

"Live sports is a rare commodity," he said. "You could tell just during the Covid period when there was no sports on TV, people were just craving for it. Once you put games back on, people have come back to watch sports enthusiastically."

Tsai said he's hopeful for a vaccine and said teams will be able to test fans as they enter arenas to ensure safety.

The various virus-related issues are "challenges that can be overcome with time," he added. "I'm very excited about the future of live sports."