If NFL stops, 'innocent bystanders' to take hit

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By JAIME ARON
The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 9, 2011; 10:56 AM

-- Beyond the rich players and even wealthier team owners arguing over how to divvy up $9 billion in revenue a year, the people who would suffer most if there's no NFL season this year are those whose jobs, businesses and even charity work depend on games.

It's the 2,500 ticket-takers, janitors and other game-day employees at the Superdome in New Orleans, and the suburban dry cleaner who washes all their uniforms.

It's the receptionists and accountants for the New York Jets, and the high school band booster club that sells burgers and beer at Carolina Panthers games.

It's the Episcopal church that sells parking spots for Tennessee Titans games, the hotel across the street from the stadium in Houston and the ticket broker who opened a store facing Cowboys Stadium.

And on and on it goes, across the communities of all 32 teams.

"It's like an earthquake - there's a ripple effect out to other people, other parts of the region," said James J. Cochran, co-author of "An Event Study of the Economic Impact of Professional Sport Franchises on Local U.S. Economies" and an associate professor in economics at Louisiana Tech. "You can't really assume the impact is limited to the area around the stadium. You feel the shock everywhere along the way. It may not be the same shaking as at the epicenter, but you feel it."

The NFL and the players union are talking with a federal mediator to work out a new collective bargaining agreement. If they don't have a deal by Friday afternoon, the owners could lock out the players or the NFLPA might decertify and take its fight to court. Either scenario would put the NFL on a path that might wipe out some or all the upcoming season.

To gauge the fiscal fallout of NFL games not being played, The Associated Press interviewed dozens of economists, business owners and team officials from across the country. Several themes emerged:

- Teams would be hit hard because they collect a lot of the money spent on game days (concessions, parking, souvenirs), especially in newer stadiums designed to maximize their haul.

Local tax districts would suffer, too, most of all in places where there are tariffs on tickets or parking spots to repay stadium costs. The way things are set up in Foxborough, Mass., revenue from the Patriots' stadium pays for big-ticket items such as school buses, school computers, highway trucks and fire engines. The town's capital budget - the line item that would be hit - already has been "starved out" for several years, skimping on all but the school buses, said Randy Scollins, Foxborough's finance director.

"We have a big backlog of items that deliver services to town," Scollins said. "This would only delay that more."

- With just eight home games per regular season, game days are only a part of a worker's income - extra hours or a second job for stadium types, a busy day at the office for the waiter at a nearby sports bar. However, it's still money they are counting on.


CONTINUED     1           >

Mark Maske, NFL News Feed

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