I am pleased to announce that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell talked to the SB Nation NFL bloggers this afternoon for a half hour as he fielded questions about the labor situation and other football-related topics. The entire conference was a question and answer session, and I appreciate Goodell's understanding of the fact that a network like SB Nation provides a direct outlet to communicating issues the fans are wondering because we are fans ourselves.
Unfortunately, I didn't listen to the call live as it was scheduled/announced a few hours before the call took place. I would have loved the opportunity to get my own question in, but I was still able to listen to the conference call myself. We will have the audio of the conference call available for your listening pleasure Friday afternoon. After the jump, I highlighted a financial topic discussed by Goodell, along with the NFL's lead negotiator, Jeff Pash.
Andrew Sharp (SBNation.com contributor): "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."
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."
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."
Remember, the full interview will be available Friday afternoon.