Tag:Owners Meetings
Posted on: June 6, 2011 6:40 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 7:15 pm

NFL season ticket sales now down from last year

Posted by Will Brinson

Late in May, we inked a story about the increase in NFL season-ticket sales relative to this time last year.

Well, the league has reversed course, according to Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal. The NFL is now reporting that sales are behind the pace at the same time in 2010.

Yes, it seems like odd timing, considering the league's report that sales were up came just seven days ago. However, Kaplan notes that the timing of the report could make sense; the NFL's data during the previous report was thru May 7. Now the data is current through the end of May.

What makes this a bit bizarre is the fact that it took 24 days to generate the data thru May 7, and yet the current data took less than seven days to generate.

It's also entirely possible that the NFL felt the news about the ticket sales was off-base with their current state of financial affairs (after all, Roger Goodell openly lamented the state of the NFL's business) and wanted a more current assessment.

Kaplan notes as well that the league informed him "suite and club seat renewals [are] at a crawl."

The flummoxing state of affairs from the first report -- after all, there isn't any guaranteed football for next year -- was only really explainable by tickets going on sale earlier than previous years as well as earlier deadlines for getting tickets applications in.

This new report makes much more sense, even if the timing of the various pieces of released information is a bit odd.

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Posted on: May 31, 2011 11:04 am
Edited on: May 31, 2011 11:23 am

NFL somehow ahead of 2010's ticket sales pace?

Posted by Will Brinson

There's one thing we're sure of: NFL fans are less happy right now than they were a year ago.

Or maybe the fans are unhappy -- but they aren't going away. Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal reports that the "NFL [is] ahead of last year's pace for season ticket sales despite the lockout."

Kaplan also reports that the league is considering "changes to blackout policy."

Let's address the ticket sales issue first. Because, frankly, that seems absolutely impossible, given that there is no promise of football in 2011.

Of course, it's always easier to sell tickets when you a) start selling them sooner and b) provide an earlier cutoff for season-ticket holders to renew; I believe the NFL used both practices this offseason.

This news is surprising given that Roger Goodell recently took to the podium and pointed out that business across the NFL is down, and that the league is absolutely seeing the impact of the lockout on season-ticket sales.

This is the likely logic for the phrase "on pace." It's good news for some clubs if their sales are exceeding the sales from this point last year. And even if it's good news for the league as a whole,  some teams must be suffering a negative impact.

What will really matter is where these numbers are in August, when the season is about to -- or, should I say supposed to -- start.

Because if there's no football, there's no amount of sold tickets that will justify the problem facing the NFL.

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Posted on: May 25, 2011 12:33 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2011 6:26 am

Goodell: Lockout 'clearly had an impact' on fans

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL wrapped its spring owners meetings in Indianapolis on Wednesday, and afterward, as is customary, Roger Goodell took the stage to talk about rule changes, the state of football and this lockout thing.

Though Goodell sidestepped a couple of issues -- the window needed for free agency, most notably -- he was refreshingly candid about the damage done by the lockout

"I think it's clearly had an impact on our fans," Goodell said. "You can see that in the various metrics that we have -- whether it's ratings or for traffic on NFL.com. We see that.

"And that is a reflection on the uncertainty and frustration of our fans. And we all understand that. There are also financial consequences because of that, but clearly -- if we're not successful, that's clearly to come."

Asked as a follow-up if the lockout had affected season-ticket sales, Goodell didn't hesitate to point out that the respective clubs were all suffering when it came to locking down ticket sales.

"It clearly has an impact [on season ticket sales]," Goodell said. "Fans want certainty. I don't think you can ever underestimate -- fans are still going through challenges, just in the general economy. And those challenges continue to impact on their decisions. And rightfully so.
Owners Meetings/Labor News

And that's something they have to balance when they want to put down money for a season ticket or a club seat or whatever else. And so we have to keep that in mind. The ownership has been reminded of that during the past couple of days, and they don't need reminding, because they're on the front line."

Most interesting was Goodell's response to a request for "specific data" about the impact of the lockout. He seemed absolutely amenable to providing the requested information, if only because it clearly showed the problems that the lockout is causing around the league, from the standpoint of keeping fans interested and generating revenue.

"It's a noticeable change," Goodell said. "I think you guys are aware of it -- our ratings were down in the draft for example. Roughly four million people -- that's a noticeable decrease ... about a 10 percent decrease as I recall."

While no fans want to hear about the revenue that the league, its teams and the players are currently losing, it is a significant point of interest, because money that gets thrown out the window during a labor impasse directly correlates to the difficulty in finding an agreement down the road.

"The longer it goes the more damage is done to the game and the more revenue's down and that means less money that can be divided between the parties," Goodell said.

Owners were presented the full range of plans for opening weekend, from the first game on Thursday night at Lambeau Field to commemorations of the Sept. 11 attacks on the first full Sunday of games. Those dates are not in jeopardy yet, but the longer the impasse, the more in danger they would become, particularly with the league's marketing partners, sponsors and advertisers who must commit dollars to those events well in advance.

"We're not at an Armageddon date," Eric Grubman, executive vice president of business operations for the NFL, told the Associated Press. "We're not staring that in the face this week."

But like any event looming on the horizon, the theoretically non-existent drop-dead date isn't actually that far off. But, apparently, it won't impact the way Goodell and the NFL head into the next season.

"We're approaching 2011," Goodell added, "as we would any other season."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: May 24, 2011 3:29 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2011 6:26 pm

NFL working on 'team fine' system for hits

Posted by Will Brinson

Three new NFL rule changes relating to player safety were approved Tuesday at the owners' meetings in Indianapolis. Also, the NFL is close to rolling out a "team fine" system for fining franchises if they have multiple players who are fined throughout the season.

League vice president Adolpho Birch referred to the system as a "notion of club accountability,"  but said that details of the plan are not final.

"As a club's total (number of fines) increases to a certain threshold, we will enforce some ... payback to encourage clubs to stay below that threshold," Birch said. "We're looking at a system similar to one we instituted a couple years ago with off-field conduct.

"We're still working on specifics. Let's just say it would be significant and reasonable," he said.

Birch did not identify which teams likely would have been fined had the system been in place during the 2010 season, but did say that "three our four teams would have been subject to penalties."

Art Rooney, speaking at the owners meetings, said that the Steelers would have been one of the teams that would have qualified for such a fine, according to Dan Parr of Pro Football Weekly.
Safety Rules

NFL VP Ray Anderson, also speaking in Indy, said that suspensions will again be considered for the coming season. In 2010, the NFL threatened players with the possibility of suspensions based on hits that were considered flagrant violations, but no player was suspended.

Fines and suspensions will presumably be easier to come by in 2011, as well.  The 32 owners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve rules that increase player safety, including a measure aimed at preventing a player from launching himself into a defenseless opponent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 16, 2010 10:11 am
Edited on: December 16, 2010 10:13 am

Goodell: Re-seeding playoff plans have 'merits'

Posted by Will Brinson

FORT WORTH, TEXAS -- Every week, it seems, there's some new argument for why [Insert your favorite NFC West team here] shouldn't make the playoffs in 2010, despite winning an utterly terrible division.

It was bound to come up at the owners' meetings as well (anyone else kind of chuckle at the thought of Bob Kraft stewing because Alex Spanos winked at him over that 8-8 season in 2008?) but don't expect anything regarding the way the playoffs are handled to change.

"I'm sure it will be [addressed]," Goodell said. "It's not a new conversation. We've had an awful lot of discussion over that over the past several years and I'm sure it'll come up again for discussion.

"I see the merits of what they're talking about, but I also believe our playoff system has worked quite well."

It has worked well -- even the most nightmarish of situations (the aforementioned 8-8 Chargers) didn't end poorly because San Diego played well in the postseason. But right now, the league is staring at a situation where St. Louis or Seattle get a home game in the playoffs with one of them sliding in at a best-case scenario 9-7.

Which is why Falcons President Rich McKay, co-chair of the competition committee, also believes re-seeding is something to be looked at.

"I think it should be discussed, and I think it would get more support than the last time," McKay said.

That's because right now, the idea of Seattle or St. Louis hosting a home game is pretty reprehensible especially if it means that a strong team like Green Bay or Tampa Bay gets pushed out for a team with a sub-.500 record.

That's not to say the committee should completely boot division-winning teams with bad records from the playoffs. That's a bit extreme, especially when you consider the success the NFC West has had in the past (the Rams, Cardinals and Seahawks have all been to the Super Bowl in the past decade and the Niners are historically legendary or something). But removing the luxury of a home game from a 7-9 division champ seems like a reasonable step to take.

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Posted on: December 16, 2010 1:35 am

Goodell slings optimistic rhetoric on labor deal

Posted by Will Brinson

FORT WORTH, TEXAS -- The NFL's labor negotiations (we'll upgrade them to "crisis" immediately following the Super Bowl, for those keeping score at home) have a chance of being completed by the end of the postseason.

That's the word from the owners' meetings in Fort Worth, according to Commissioner Roger Goodell.

"I don't think it's practical by the end of the regular season," Goodell said following the owners meetings. "We'll certainly work day and night to do that. I think the end of the postseason is realistic if we all work hard at it."

But if there's a reason for optimism regarding the labor negotiations, it wasn't being provided to the public from any of the NFL owners.

Patriots owner Bob Kraft earlier this season provided substantial optimism for the labor deal to be completed before the end of the season. On Wednesday, the only comment he would provide was, "The Packers are good!" (the Patriots play them Sunday, and he said it smiling and yes, it was funny). Goodell was more than willing, though, to provide a passive aggressive dispute of Kraft's previous statement.

"I don't expect it to happen in December," Goodell said. "I don't know if that's what Mr. Kraft said -- I think he said at the end of the season but I'm not sure if he meant the end of the regular season or the postseason. But you'll have to ask Mr. Kraft about that."

Whatever Kraft meant, there was clearly a signal crossed earlier in the year. That wasn't the case this time around in Fort Worth, when most owners appeared more inclined to silence than anything else.

Kraft offered no opinions on the labor negotiations, Dan Snyder bolted the Omni like he was headed for a Mission: Impossible premiere (sunglasses and all), Jerry Jones was actually unseen in his hometown, and any of the owners asked about the labor negotiations offered simply generic musings on what might happen, leaving only Goodell to offer cautious optimism of a new deal.

"The reality is, there are discussions going on but as I've said, it takes productive dialogue and we've got to get to that kind of place where we're making significant progress and get an agreement," Goodell said. "And I think it's a positive sign that we're having dialogue. But as I said it's not just about meetings or dialogues it's about getting real, significant progress on the key issues."

That's not to say that the NFL owners are at fault here, because, as always, it takes two to tango.

Asked whether he thinks the NFLPA feels the same urgency that the owners do, Goodell said, "I hope so."

That's the biggest problem though -- in order to find urgency, the NFL owners and the NFL Players Association need to be faced with a direct deadline regarding labor negotiations and stare the possibility of alienating fans in the face. Right now, that means that early March is the only looming date on the calendar.

"I don't have a deadline," Goodell said. "I believe that this becomes harder after the [CBA] expires, which is March 4. I've read comments about internal deadlines from the NFLPA and I'm not sure what that is.

"From our standpoint, we don't have a deadline other than to get this done as soon as possible."

The good news, though, is that Goodell and the owners do understand the danger in angering the consumer.

"Absolutely," Goodell said when asked if he was concerned with alienating fans. "That's why we all want to get it done. And that's why we're completely focused and make it the highest priority -- the fans want football. That's what we all need to continue to make sure we do, to bring football to our fans."

"I think I've been very clear that when there's uncertainty, that's not a good thing. It's not a good thing for the fans, it's not a good thing for your business partners, it's not a good thing for revenue going down the path. It could be damaging to the game and that's something we're trying to avoid."

Goodell also acknowledged how complex the current collective bargaining agreement has become.

"Well, it's labor negotiations and I think one of the efforts that both sides want to achieve is the simplicity of the agreement, because this has become a very complex agreement," Goodell said. "And there's an effort to simplify the agreement and that's a key priority for both sides."

Unfortunately, the complexity of labor negotiations aren't something that translate well to fans. Fans care about ticket prices, concessions, quality of their team's play and, most importantly, whether there's football on the field or not.

Right now, regardless of how many optimistic keywords the NFL (and the NFLPA) want to sling around, it doesn't appear there's a strong movement towards getting a deal done.

That's not to say that Goodell is bluffing with his Super Bowl deadline, it's just that he said himself it will take legitimate sit-down/hash-it-out negotiations in order to make something happen, and right now, that's not taking place.

And until it does, there is a very real danger that there won't be football in 2011.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com