Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal recently reported NFL owners were informed at a meeting in Indianapolis that season-ticket sales surprisingly were ahead of the 2010 pace, despite the lockout.
Per Kaplan, the league now claims that the sales are behind last year’s numbers.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy explained to Kaplan that the sales figures shared with the owners applied only through May 6. When adjusting the totals through May 31, the numbers have dropped. McCarthy also said that renewals of suites and club seats “have slowed to a crawl.”
The league apparently is trying to counter, as Kaplan explains it, criticism of teams for “cutting back and laying off and furloughing employees” at a time when sales were actually up.
But the new figures don’t make the situation any better, in our view. The NFL has been planning to lock out the players for years. Why not also plan to take care of the folks caught in the middle? Last year, in the final year of the labor deal, teams were able to set aside plenty of money thanks to the absence of a salary floor and the disappearance of various types of player benefits. They teams should have set some of that money aside to help pay the employees who are now feeling the pain for a wound they didn’t inflict.
To the extent that the cuts are merely part of some broader effort to demonstrate that the teams are suffering during the lockout, then it’s one of the dumbest P.R. efforts we’ve ever seen. This isn’t a recession or some other external hardship. The NFL has brought this financial crisis on itself in an effort to get a bigger piece of the revenue pie from the players. Thus, the only team officials who fairly should be losing any money as a result of the lockout are the owners.