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Nueva Ecija owner Bong Cuevas yearns for a ‘sustainable’ MPBL

From the outside, the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League seems like it’s having a banner year.

Viewership, both online and terrestrial, is at a high, and venues are also packed to the roof at almost every provincial game. The fifth season of the league is just about to begin its most crucial stage—the playoffs.

“There’s no doubt that the MPBL is already up there,” said Nueva Ecija owner Bong Cuevas. “Our games always draw big audiences, not only in Nueva Ecija but also in other major cities and provinces. Most of our games are very exciting and entertaining.”

However, what happens when the bright lights suddenly dim? What happens when there’s no title sponsor to back the league?

It can’t just be about using the funds of league owner Manny Pacquiao.

Those are just some of the questions that should be resolved by the league as soon as possible—a question of how the league can be sustained.

Currently, the MPBL is still run as it was during its founding in 2017. Teams back then paid a one-time franchise fee while the league organized the competition. Easy, right? But how can each team earn?

From P500,000, franchises are expected to be worth around P50 million by the league’s sixth season next year. However, selling a franchise or leasing it out is not a feasible way to make profits. Meanwhile, ticket selling has yet to be fully implemented by each host. The majority of hosts want packed venues, and the only way to achieve that is by either selling seats at a very low price or, most of the time, offering free seating.

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“Makita lang namin maging masaya ang mga taga-Nueva Ecija, bawi na kami. There’s no price for that,” shared Cuevas.

So, how can a league be sustainable? There are plenty of ways. Merchandise selling is one, and removing a lock on sponsorships is another. These are just some of the ideas floated around by a group of owners who only want one thing—for the MPBL to flourish.

Those are just some ideas being floated around by some of the league’s passionate team owners. Keyword: Ideas.

And the only way for those out-of-the-box plans can be formulated is if there’s constantly dialogue between the league and its members.

It will only start if there’s a board or a management committee composed of league members.

Yes, sharing the decision-making is a good start.

“I know there are MPBL teams that do not even have a big sponsor or strong financial backing. But, like Nueva Ecija, they are happy because of the reception they receive from their fans at home,” he said. “But how long can the teams sustain it is another matter. I am a firm believer in the MPBL, but we also have to continue to bring it closer to the people.”

And there is no one else who knows the people better than the ones who are actually living in those cities—the team owners.

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