Nervous NFL, NASCAR, Hollywood Studios & Unions Push For “Pandemic Risk Insurance” From Congress


As Hollywood and major league sports’ restarting looks to be stymied by soaring coronavirus cases, some of the biggest players in the arena want Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi to change the rules of the game in their favor.

“Whether it be professional and collegiate sporting events, the next must-see film, a bingeworthy TV series, or a marquee Broadway production, we cannot envision any long-term recovery of these American experiences without some form of business interruption insurance that mitigates the risks associated with producing these popular events and programs in the COVID era now facing the country,” declared a letter sent today from the likes of the NFL, NASCAR, the MPA, DGA, IASTE, SAG-AFTRA, and the PGA to the Senate Majority Leader, the House Speaker and their respective teams.

“In short, the ability of American businesses like ours to secure pandemic risk insurance will be a key factor to America’s economic recovery,” the July 1 dated 2-page correspondence that Deadline has obtained adds. “We stand ready to work with all parties on both sides of the Capitol to ensure the U.S. economy can re-start effectively and is prepared for future pandemic-related disruptions,” the industry Dream Team note states (READ IT HERE).

Still, likely to be part of the next COVID-19 economic relief package coming out of Capitol Hill, the request in today’s letter to Congressional leaders has hit a bit of resistance from Republicans, sources tell me.

Simply put, as reopening schemes are faltering in many Red states as well as California, the political risks associated with indemnifying “special interests” like the well-heeled sports leagues and Tinseltown doesn’t poll well with GOP voters who have already been TKO’d by the lockdowns, closures and economic freefall of the health crisis.

“There may be a time for this, but the time may not be now,” one legislative insider told Deadline Wednesday of the latest request. Coming just two days after a previous letter inked from studio lobby group the Motion Picture Association, the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the Independent Film & Television Alliance, this new ask is being pushed by Fox, we hear.

With its deep pocket reliance on sports and strong GOP connections, the Lachlan Murdoch-headed media company is probably best poised among interested parties to get legislation through Congress and to Donald Trump’s desk in a reasonably timely fashion. With that, Fox Corporation had no comment today on the letter and its role in its drafting.

As the current wave of the virus is on the uptick and a dreaded second wave anticipated in the fall looms, the bottom line is sports and production want a financial safety net before stepping on the field or on set. With Governors and Mayors moving to whack a mole the coronavirus in what has become a patchwork of measures across America, the risk that stadiums, racetracks and studios could suddenly be closed down after an expensive reopening leaves many on shaky ground – to put it mildly.

Inching towards a planned September 10 start of play, the NFL is additionally contemplating to further shield itself by having fans sign a waiver when they enter stadiums. With that, there are doubts about how legally binding such paperwork would actually be if people started getting ill or dying.

In terms of timetable, today’s letter makes it clear that sooner is way better than latter for the hobbled sports and entertainment businesses. However, I hear, that realistically all concerned see real relief more than likely coming early next year once the presidential, Congressional and local elections are out of the way.

Today’s letter also comes as California Gov Gavin Newsom seeks to stem the rising coronavirus tide in the Golden State with new restrictions imposed in 19 counties, including LA. As California’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose nearly 4.5% overnight to just over 230,000 and nearly 2% to nearly 6,100 death, Newsom pulled the plug on recently reopened in-restaurant dining, movie theaters, wineries and tasting rooms, zoos entertainment centers, cardrooms and museums.

The new measures are set to last for the next three weeks, with additional moves expected by L.A. County and the hard-hit City of Angels itself before the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

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