Having had the opportunity to see the entire interview with the commissioner, I have to believe Roger Goodell has the fans' best interests at heart, and is sincere when he says so, and the reaching out to us supports that. As always, all thoughts and angles will be appreciated, and the opportunity to share, learn, and become more informed as fans should be welcomed with enthusiasm. It is my sincere belief that if all players were 100% informed on all matters, there would not exist such a large gap as we are seeing. We will discuss the matter that remains at the forefront of all discussions, and the one that definitely affects you and I as fans paying our hard earned dollars to the organizations and the league: the financial gap going forward between owners and players. Jeff Pash and Roger Goodell had this to say in response to SBNation's questions and ours regarding the money:
How can you expect fans to believe the financial model is broken if you won’t open the books?
JP: There’s been a tremendous amount of financial information disclosed to the union in the course of bargaining. And the union knows, as do people like you who follow the game, when stadiums were built in the last couple of decades they were largely being built with public money. Now they are being built heavily with private money. Here in the Meadowlands, for example, the Jets and the Giants each have about $650 million debt to service, plus $45 million a year in operating costs, plus they have all the costs of upkeep, capital improvements, and things like that. If a stadium gets built out in the Bay Area or in Minnesota, there are going to be very substantial costs imposed and the current structure of the collective bargaining agreement doesn’t recognize those costs nearly to the extent it needs to be to encourage the investments to be made. It’s not a question of popularity or of revenue. It’s a question of having enough of a return and enough of a proportionate sharing of the financial risk in the sport that the game can continue to grow and benefit fans and players.
RG: To your point, the NFL brand is extremely popular and you’ve seen the ratings numbers. All of that is because the owners and players have worked together to try to create not only a business model but a quality product that everyone can enjoy. And they have derived benefits from many different directions. You don’t rest on your laurels for one. Two is you have to make sure you are looking towards future and not at the past. And seizing opportunities to make sure you have the right business model for the period of time and the challenges that you are facing. And the league is no different than any other business. Our consumers and fans are impacted by what’s going on in the economy. We have challenges getting people into the stadiums. It’s costing more money to build those stadiums, maintain those stadiums, operate those stadiums. It’s costing more money to get those fans into the stadium, and quite frankly we’re very concerned about what the cost of attending our events is. It cannot continue to escalate at the rates it has. We have to be responsible in recognizing that we have to not only put out a great product but also create great value for our fans. That’s what we’re trying to address here, not only in our collective bargaining but also in our operations.
We have had discussions at length and the consensus belief, for the most part, is that clubs are making money "hand over foot," and that the dollars are ridiculous, and if we were allowed to see the accounting league-wide, we would see this is the case. We also know that under conditions of the prior CBA, the players were slated to receive 60% of revenues in 2011.
Hit the jump, and we'll examine more closely the responses by Goodell and the league.
It's impossible to dispute that today's costs pale those from just a decade ago, and the difference grows astronomical from two and three decades and as we move forward into uncharted territory. Anyone who is in business today can respect that it's an entirely different ballgame than in the past. Public funding for stadiums in today's economy is out of the question, and privately funded alternatives would bode for even higher ticket prices, parking, and beer and drinks at the concession stands for us all, in an age where we find it increasingly more difficult to afford being participating fans. It appears this discrepancy lies at the heart of why owners opted out of the prior CBA, and it's the owner's claim that their business projections failed to take into account this increase in costs, and for them to prevent fans from incurring the skyrocketing costs of being active fans--that is, attending games, purchasing season tickets, purchasing NFL ticket and NFL Redzone and Satellite Radio and various multimedia--an adjustment to the allocation of future revenues is a necessary one.
Now: How then, do we find an amiable compromise between the two parties? Can it be done without transparency into the books, at least more so than what has been offered thus far?
The following bullet points from the now defunct NFLPA, and their response to the proposal by the owners on March 19th:
- Your proposal called for a pegged amount for the salary cap plus benefits starting at 141M in 2011 and increasing to 161M in 2014, regardless of NFL revenues. These amounts by themselves would have set the players back years, and were based on unrealistically low revenue projections. Your proposal also would have given the owners 100% of all revenues above the low projections, including the first year of new TV contracts in 2014.
- Your offer did NOT meet the players halfway when it would have given 100% of the additional revenues to the owners.As a result, the players’ share of NFL revenues would have suffered a massive decrease. This is clear by comparing your proposal to what the players would receive under the 50% share of all revenues they have had for the past twenty years.
- If NFL revenues grow at 8% over the next four years (consistent with Moody’s projections), which is the same growth rate it has been for the past decade, then the cap plus benefits with our historical share would be 159M in 2011 (18M more per team than your 141M proposal) and grow to 201M per team in 2014 (40M more per team than your 161M proposal).
Does it not appear now that our question is even more relevant? Goodell and Pash responded in a way that satisfied needs to share their position but if we or the players will ever know if the numbers to substantiate that position will surface becomes an even greater question mark.
While we know what Goodell says about stadium funding in the past and now and in the future to be true, we must eagerly await what Mr. DeMaurice Smith will have to say in response to see what, if anything, is satisfied and what is not in this, the latest move in a chess match of all chess matches. One can only speculate if anything is actually going on in court to get both sides closer to an agreement, and if this back and forth through media--which now finds us firmly entrenched as the latest member to be used--represents how current negotiating is being done.I do not expect the players' side to be satisfied with explanations that demonstrate how the owners justify reallocating projected funds for costs without an explicit demonstration in accounting from both past books and forecasts for coming seasons.
While I feel a touch more educated on the subject in light of the interview, I remain unsatisfied myself that the sides have done much more to bridge the existing gaps than before if they haven't gone backwards, but it is a step in a long process. I look forward to a prompt and fair deal for all, and hopefully one that truly takes into account keeping the game affordable for all.
Many thanks to our founder, Raymond "saint" St. Martin, Dave Halprin of Blogging the Boys, and Joel Thorman of SBNation for providing us with the interview, and to Mr. Goodell and Mr. Pash for the responses. Below is a link to the entire interview on SBNation: