Odds Broadway Reopens by Sep. 1st Set at -120

Broadway and Times Square area in New York City.
Will the Broadway theater district open before September 1st, 2020? Photo from Wiki Commons.
  • After Broadway’s original plan to re-open has been pushed back, odds are split on whether or not they’ll be ready to perform in September
  • The theatre industry contributed $14.7 billion to the New York City economy in 2019
  • The current speculation is that September is a worst-case scenario for Broadway and it should open sooner

As New York City continues its shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, one of the recurring questions everyone has been asking is when things will open up?

Some states like Texas and Tennessee have already started to re-open parts of their economy, but New York is facing a much tougher test with COVID-19.

One of the aspects of New York City that’s been hit hardest has been Broadway. While industries like airlines, cruise ships and oil might get bailouts, there’s been scant discussion as to whether theaters will receive help.

Odds on Broadway Return Before September 1st, 2020

When Will Broadway Theater Performances Re-Open? Odds
After September 1, 2020 -120
Before September 1, 2020 -120

Odds taken April 30th

How Bad Has Broadway Been Hit?

One of the biggest challenges of determining how soon they might push for an opening is by gauging how much pain they’ve suffered. We know that Broadway contributed $14.7 billion to the New York City economy in 2019 and created 96,900 jobs.

The latest estimates we heard on losses this year were in the $500 million range but those figures from Billboard came out early in April. At the time, the expectation was that they might re-open in June.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc, it’s now looking like a summer return is off the table. That means losses will surpass $1 billion.

What Will Reopening Look Like?

One of the challenges with running Broadway shows is they cost a lot of money to restart. The main shows are going to need about $1 million to begin operations and get back up to speed. The concern then is what will the reopening look like for both performers and audience members.

There are all sorts of questions as to whether a theater can re-open and be profitable if social distancing is enforced (running at 50% capacity).

What if there are no social distancing rules but the audience members don’t return right away because they don’t want to be in big crowds or seated right next to strangers?

If these are genuine concerns for Broadway shows, they might decide to hold off until there is greater consumer confidence. And who knows when that might happen.

What’s the Best Bet?

Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin spoke with Deadline recently and said that September is a worst-case scenario. That being the case, it looks like there is value on Broadway opening up before then.

We have to be realistic and look at this from a macro-level. The new coronavirus cases in New York City are receding and we’re just about to start the month of May. Even if they kept things closed for the entire month of May, that means there would still be June, July and August where Broadway could open and you’d win this prop.

September seems overly cautious – especially with so many other states already starting to reopen. I’d bet that Broadway is back up and running before September.

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