Joseph Tsai speaks during the 2020 Alpha Conference on September 30, 2020.
Brooklyn Nets owner Joseph Tsai envisions the arenas still being devoid of many fans for the next season, although he expects this to change in the years to come.
"Next season is going to be a little tricky because we don't expect to have lots of fans or a full … arena anytime soon," Tsai said Wednesday during the Delivering Alpha conference presented by CNBC and Institutional Investor. "But you know what? In the following season, 2022, 2023, we're looking for a very nice rebound."
The NBA is in the middle of a playoff season after a season in which games have been played without fans and player movements have been restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although the nets made the postseason, they were swept out and hired Steve Nash as the new coach.
Tsai, also co-founder and chairman of the China-based marketplace Alibaba, said the nets had "done pretty well in the bubble" despite the disappointing end of the season.
Teams across the sport spectrum faced declining revenues due to the lack of spectators admitted to most events. However, Tsai said he remains encouraged that fan interest remains high.
"Live sports are a rare commodity," he said. "It was just during the Covid period that you could see that there were no sports on TV, people just longed for them. As soon as you put the games back on, people came back to watch sports with enthusiasm."
Tsai said he was hoping for a vaccine and the teams could test fans when they enter the arenas to ensure safety.
The various virus-related issues are "challenges that can be overcome over time," he added. "I am very excited about the future of live sports."