Uytengsu says viability of maintaining PBA team a challenge if pandemic drags on
The current health situation could put to the test the sustainability of teams especially if the league’s 45th season gets canceled and this pandemic extends for another year or two.
“We will see how long that will continue because if it drags on for a second or third year, it will be very difficult,” said Alaska owner Wilfred Steven Uytengsu, whose franchise is on its 35th year in Asia’s pioneering pro league.
“I’m not putting the cart before the horse. I’m just trying to be very practical on a macro basis.”Speaking on TV5’s “Sports Page” show on Wednesday, Uytengsu said he is studying a realistic approach in dealing with the pandemic while also running a PBA team, which is considered a form of advertisement for his business.
“I’m spending a lot of time trying to understand the economic impact on our businesses,” he said. “How do we as a company continue to run a team when our businesses are going to be down 20, 30, 40, some people even say 50 percent and still have the same budget to advertise, same budget to run a PBA team? And that will be a challenge.”
“Fortunately for Alaska Milk, we are a necessity,” Uytengsu said. “People have to eat, so to some extent, over the long term, I think we will be less affected. If you are a product or a service that is less critical in terms of a daily need, that could spell trouble for a team or a company like that.”
For now, Uytengsu stressed that the ideal scenario is for the PBA to hold at least one conference this season as teams continue to pay full salaries of players and staff without games since the league was shuttered on March 11 because of the virus.
But with modified enhanced community quarantine once again enforced in Metro Manila, the resumption of workouts have been put on hold until Aug. 19 at the earliest.
The amiable billionaire disclosed that Alaska has been committed to giving full salaries to its players and staff.
“Imagine, we are going to get one conference of advertising for an entire year of salaries,” Uytengsu said. “I’m sure Alaska is and I’m sure all the teams are continuing to pay their [players and staff] full salaries.”
Uytengsu said he has remained in touch with his team, encouraging his players to do home workouts and connect through online applications during this difficult time.
“I told the guys first and foremost, I want you to treat this seriously, I want you to respect this pandemic because you don’t see it, it’s not like something is there and you avoid it,” he added. “The issue is we have to be pragmatic. Think together with the players, coaches and staff, we have to see where it’s going to end. We have to see when it’s going to end.”
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