This is madness. As the country struggles with a prolonged recession and so many people are unemployed or under employed, NFL owners and players continue to squabble over a new collective bargaining agreement.
Perhaps both parties are not privy to the big picture here and the immense damage that a lost, or more likely, a reduced, NFL season would do to the American economy.
Consider that for the average city hosting an NFL team, a regular season accounts for the employment of about 3,739 people, according to an Edgeworth Economics report commissioned by the NFL Players Association. That’s 115,000 jobs across the entire country. Each community that hosts an NFL team would suffer a loss of approximately $160 million in economic activity, about $5 billion spread across the 31 communities that NFL teams call home.
Recent reports indicate that negotiations between the two sides are now only over the last few details. This is great news, but just like football itself, you don’t get any points for getting into the redzone.
Even so, the secondary impacts associated with the loss of a 2011 season seem to be an afterthought for those involved in negotiations. Several mayors from around the country have expressed concern over the damage a continued lockout would pose to their cities. In a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Houston Mayor Annise Parker said “any decline in these revenues would hurt working families and the city as a whole, further compounding the difficulties we are facing due to the ongoing economic downturn.” Mayors in Miami, Minneapolis, Kansas City and elected officials in San Diego have also reportedly contacted the league with similar concerns.
Perhaps more public officials should voice their concerns to both the NFL and NFLPA that the lockout has consequences that reach beyond the league itself. While they are at it, it might do some good to remind all parties that 28 of the 31 NFL stadiums have been built with assistance from public financing, with the specific intent of drawing an increase in local economic activity. Some of that funding was quite substantial, and several stadiums were entirely financed by taxpayer money. Had any of the team owners explained that a return on publicly funded investments hinged on the battle over who gets more money, the owners or the players, many taxpayers might have engaged in a little renegotiating themselves.
Besides the human beings impacted by a lockout, there are countless sports bars and restaurants that will undoubtedly be taking big hits in revenue. In an interview with Advertising Age, Mike Pressley, owner of Cheyenne Grill and Sports Bar in Atlanta, noted that football Sundays account for some 20 percent of his weekly sales. As for a 2011 season lockout — “It would be a killer, straight up. It would probably put us out of business,” said Pressley.
It’s time for both parties to come to their senses and step up to the plate before they inflict greater economic damage to a country already burdened by a recession.