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The clubs' share of the CBA's financial pie is about to get much bigger.
After inking lucrative endorsement deals with 23 sponsors plus a five-year deal with marketing partner, Infront, worth 1.7 billion yuan ($273 million), according to Beijing Morning News, the CBA has become one of the richest professional leagues in China, and that's paying off for its clubs.
According to a Beijing News report, the appropriation to each club from league revenue will reach $1.6 million this season, almost 10 times the previous amount.
"We will have more funds from sponsors this season, so all the clubs should benefit," said Bai Xilin, head of the CBA's competition department. "The league won't make money. The entire funds will go to clubs' infrastructure building and salary expenses."
To better serve fans and media, the league has also urged its clubs to improve their stadiums' facilities, including media areas and air conditioning. It has also set standards for temperature and lighting levels.
However, it remains a long shot for all the gyms to reach the NBA-standards of Beijing's MasterCard Center and Guangzhou's International Sports Arena.
In a cold gymnasium (reportedly 5 degrees above zero) in Binzhou, Shandong province, former NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady of the Qingdao Eagles refused to play after being on court for only 98 seconds of an exhibition game on Tuesday.
Fans, who paid a lot to watch T-Mac, were disappointed and threw bottles onto the court to complain about McGrady's stance. Referees ended the match prematurely in a chaotic fourth quarter.
"The fans' support was warm but the gym was too cold. Letting him play might get him hurt. We were worried," Qingdao General Manager Sheng Xishun said.
With the association's financial aid, situations are expected to improve, but some managers remain concerned about balancing their books with their share.
"Even if we get more money from the league this year, it's still a drop in the bucket. It's impossible to make both ends meet with just this amount of funding," said Liu Hongjiang, general manager of seven-time champion Guangdong Southern Tigers.
Wang Yu, GM of Dongguan Leopard, agreed with Liu.
"Yeah, we welcome this timely help from the league. Still, it won't solve the fundamental problem as the salaries for foreign imports have been rocketing in recent years," Wang said.
(China Daily 11/23/2012 page22)