SB Nation CEO, Jim Bankoff, was able to coordinate a private conference call with Roger Goodell and Jeff Pash last minute today, exclusively for the SB Nation NFL Editors. Unfortunately, Ken and I faced conflicts that kept us on this call, so I wasn't able to get in Park's great question of "Why does the NFL keep promoting the fans want 18-games when all the public polls for both the fans and players say otherwise?" SBNation.com contributor, Andrew Sharp, however, did get in this gem:
The NFL brand is more ubiquitous than ever before. How can the owners expect fans to believe the financial model is broken if you won't open the books? From our end, it looks like the NFL is doing ever better than ever.
(NFL Lead Negotiator) Jeff Pash: 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.
Goodell's response after the jump...
Roger Goodell: 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.
So, each team has $650 mil. Didn't they get all that back with the PSLs?
PSL prices range from $1,000 to $20,000. Ninety percent of the seats in the upper bowl will have $1,000 PSLs. Fewer than 5,000 seats, in a building which will have a capacity of 82,500, will be at the highest price.
So, the upper deck gets each team $100million back and you figure (rough estimate) the lower bowl gets them $300million back. I know my friend's PSLs 10th row lower bowl were $25,000 each! As for "operating costs," this is America. It's capitalism. All businesses have them. How hard is it to having a sliding scale where if revenue is way down, owners get 60%, but if it's way up, then it's split 50-50? Am I missing something?
I do applaud the PSL route. I mean, the Giants clearly thought long and hard on how to cover this cost without gouging the fans at the gates. At the same point, don't successful businesses already have a reserve of cash for such costs? That's how capitalism works. You make an investment and then reap the returns over the next 10-30 years. The players are already contributing money to new construction, so once again I'm still on the players side in this.