On Thursday, Deadspin published leaked financial documents from the Panthers, reflecting a two-year profit of $112 million.
The Panthers have responded.
“The Deadspin story presents an incomplete picture of the Carolina Panthers profitability,” the team said in a statement issued to PFT. “The figures offer an isolated snapshot of the team’s financial situation during an unusual time as the NFL lockout loomed.
“At the time, the team had strategically reduced its spending because of the uncertainty and as part of a long-term plan to secure the team’s best talent once a collective bargaining agreement had been reached. The team’s actual operating cash flow, even before federal and state tax payments were made, was significantly less than the accounting income reported in the story.
“The most meaningful reflection of a company’s profitability is cash flow, and the team’s operating cash flow fluctuated between pre-tax figures of $26.7M in fiscal year 2011 and $39.8M in fiscal year 2012. A detailed review of the financial statements demonstrates the difficulty of being competitive in the NFL, paying players to the cap, and trying to add the financing of a major stadium renovation.”
Every word of the team’s response is likely entirely accurate, but it won’t matter to the average fan. While meaningless to the relationship between the league and the players, since the NFLPA realizes that the teams turn a healthy profit, the numbers reinforce the perception that NFL teams are making more than enough money to pay for their own stadiums without public assistance.
And that’s bad news for the Panthers, Falcons, and Dolphins, each of which are trying to get public money for renovations or new venues without the leverage that comes from a threat to move.