Squatters Occupying Vacant Luxury Boxes at Hard-Hit NBA Arenas
A Suite Deal: NBA arenas provide rent-free housing for fans hard hit by financial crisis (and for players with money management issues).
NEW YORK, NY (Sportsman’s Daily Wire Service) The global economic crisis has the NBA reeling. While attendance is technically up (official figures include no-shows), revenues from parking, concessions and merchandise have fallen dramatically. To underscore the league’s financial straits, 12 teams are vying for a piece of the $200 million the NBA is borrowing from JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America to sustain those most hard-hit by the economic downturn.
The crisis has even reached into luxury suites, many of which have remained dark for months – either strapped buyers walked away from their deposits or they simply decided to cut their losses and save on finger food and drinks. But while the suites are dark, not all are unoccupied. According to Brian Weathers, a league official, squatters have been found living -- quite comfortably -- in luxury suites at arenas around the country.
“We’ve found entire families living in luxury suites around the league,” said Weathers. “Some have been there, undisturbed for weeks. They stock the refrig, use the facilities, and hang their clothes out to dry. You kick them out, but they re-appear in another empty suite the next day. And they’re not just your garden variety homeless types – we’ve seen former bank managers, loan officers, financial planners and car salesmen with no where else to turn. Our official position is that luxury suites are not to be used as homeless shelters. Unofficially, we welcome the additional body count – have you been to a Clippers or Grizzlies game lately? It’s like a morgue in there…we’ll take warm bodies any way we can get them.”
Morris Katz, a 49 year old former financial planner, has been living comfortably at an undisclosed luxury suite for four weeks.
“This suite was actually owned by a former client, I used to watch several games a year from this very couch,” said Katz, heating a cup of soup on the stove. The TV played in the background. “I’m very comfortable here. Every so often someone comes in to vacuum and clean up, but other than that no one really bothers you. And it’s really quiet, particularly at night, which is a tribute to our fans and our team’s brand of basketball.”
It’s also been learned that several current NBA players have used luxury suites to temporarily house friends and family members.
“That’s bad enough, but what you don’t hear about are all the guys living paycheck to paycheck who pretend to go back to houses that are actually in foreclosure, but are in fact living in a pimped-out corporate suite with their posses, girlfriends and extended family – all of whom they support,” said Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns. “I’m not gonna name names, but last week during a time-out, one of the guys gets a call from his brother asking to have several rolls of toilet paper sent up to the suite. Unfortunately we had to step onto the court before the matter could be resolved. It’s just not a situation conducive to fan-friendly basketball.”
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