Lost preseason hurts players financially, too

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We’ve seen and heard more than a few media members suggest that a lost preseason causes only the owners to lose significant dollars because the players don’t get game checks until the regular season begins.  It’s not an accurate characterization of the true consequences of a canceled slate of exhibition games.

As NFL spokesman Greg Aiello pointed out earlier this week on Twitter, the revenue generated during the preseason funds the salary cap, which in turn funds those game checks.  In other words, the game checks are higher than they otherwise would be, given the inclusion of roughly $800 million per year into the pot of total revenue.

Assuming that the players get a 48-percent share of all revenue under a new CBA, a lost preseason would equate to $384 million in losses for the players, and $416 million in losses for the owners.

The losses begin soon, if/when the NFL is required to scuttle preseason games.  And because the players are now focused more on total dollars and less on percentages, the dip in total dollars resulting from lost preseason games necessarily will impact the deal that the parties are discussing.

Thus, there’s an equal incentive for both parties to save the preseason.  Meaningless to the rest of us, those non-game games with the full-price tickets and network ratings that outperform regular-season baseball have great meaning not only to the owners, but also to the players.

Even if the players don’t truly get paid for those games until September.

44 responses to “Lost preseason hurts players financially, too

  1. the players are following the pied piper, and will ultimately be the ultimate losers. anybody who thinks the owners will come out of this broke have another thing coming. the owners are buisness people first, football fans second. the same cannot be said for players in general.

  2. preseason sucks anyway… unless it’s the first 2 1/2 quarters of the 3rd preseason game… and they are way overpriced too… just get the REGULAR season back on track PLEASE… im used to pouring my paycheck into those anyway

  3. i wanna see the Ravens knock out the Steelers right off the bat this year! well i guess they should get a little practice in… ok ok… i take it back… BRING ON THE PRESEASON!

  4. “Thus, there’s an equal incentive for both parties to save the preseason. ”

    Bull. That’s $13 million per owner, plus drinks, parking, and other unshareables, right?

    Per player, that’s $226,415. And we know that skews towards the richer contracts something fierce.

    Don’t be a logical nincompoop.

  5. I hope they hurry so I can pay $100 to see the Titans minus chris johnson practice against another team!

  6. It is a bit confusing how this works. Players sign contracts that list what they make per year (+ any incentives/bonuses) and that is divided over game checks throughout the season. If that is true, then how does preseason revenue effect their checks? The number of players is a hard # and so is the number of games (usually). I see how it would take away from revenue, just not how it impacts individual salaries of contracted players.

  7. Loss of preseason games also hurts stadium crew, vendors, ushers, a lot of little guys.

  8. I am sorry if I don’t understand this… The owners own a team to make money. They pay millions of dollars every year to their employees (players), and these players are on strike to say pay us 48% of your profits???

    I know I can’t go to my owner and say…. “I’m sorry boss, but, I feel you’re making too much money, so we are all on strike, and we won’t work until you pay us almost half of what you’re making.”

    If I were the owners of these franchises, no kidding, I would fire every player, and open up tryouts to the public…. I think the game would be a lot more interesting. (How many current NFL players wouldn’t go to these tryouts?)

    There you go! Play by our rules, or don’t play at all. There are MILLIONS of people that would try out…. Another reality TV show… Look what happened with American Idol! The revenue that the NFL would get from that… Think about it!

  9. I only care about games that go into the records, otherwise they were never played.

  10. What about the season ticket holders who get stuck paying real game prices for weakass exhibition games? I hope the lockout lasts long enough to cancel the preseason so I can get a refund.

  11. Let me be dumb here..how are the game checks for players under contract higher with that preseason revenue? Aren’t their individual game checks just 1/17 of their base salary ??? I thought the players’ revenue split % was used to determine the salary cap which teams then used to do the contracts.

  12. Should I get my crying towel out now because the players have no income?

    They made this bed, let them lie in it.

    Also, I think players are played a flat rate for preseason games.

    At least it would put some money in their pockets so they can buy more bling.

    Heaven forbid they save some of it.

  13. Ok,

    I have to chime in – lots of folks who have not taken econ 101…

    We pay for SEASON tickets – they get us into both preseason and regular season games – the price of the ticket – $1200 or whatever is based on supply and demand for SEASON tickets – not any price per game crap…

    Just because a ticket has a price printed on it does not mean that is what you are paying for it – just try and buy regular season games without the 2 preseason games – the price will not be any different…

  14. And for those of you without calculators the loss per player comes out to be just under $200,000 – not insignificant…

  15. gdpont – would not hold my breath for a “refund” – that ain’t going to happen…

    Don’t like it?

    Turn in your season tickets…

  16. bucwild05 says:
    I am sorry if I don’t understand this… The owners own a team to make money. They pay millions of dollars every year to their employees (players), and these players are on strike to say pay us 48% of your profits???

    It’s the owners that are on strike. They want more money.

    The owners want a revenue sharing plan with the players, but the players are seeking a free market system through the courts. If the players are successful, the individual owners would be allowed to pay as much or as little toward player salaries as they see fit.

  17. If it’s true that the owners have suddenly out of no where demanded more transition tags per team, the players need to tell the owners to shove it where the sun don’t shine!

    Transition tags IMO should be eliminated entirely, not expanded, and unrestricted free agency should occur after four years of service time, not five or six (which is ridiculously restrictive, given the fact that the average NFL career is only 3.8 years in length as is).

    Personally I’ve been really looking forward to watching the Patriots roster get plucked clean as a goose once four year free agency is restored and the new CBA in place! 🙂

  18. It’s gonna be pretty pathetic to have Hall of Fame weekend in a few weeks without a Hall of Fame preseason game. Don’t know if puppet Goodell speaks during the ceremony……but you thought the boos were loud at draft….YIKES!

  19. Guarantee this thing doesn’t go past the 15th. They’re gonna flush 200 million down the toilet?

    Hopefully a deal by the end of this coming week and free agency before Rams/Bears open camp.

  20. If the annual HOF exhibition scrimmage is lost, who cares outside of people who live in and around Canton, OH?

    No doubt forcing NFL season ticket holders to purchase two meaningless exhibition games at full price is the biggest ticket rip off in all of sport in the history of mankind.

    What SHOULD be done is that preseason games should have a face value of $10 and $15 ($10 upper decks and end zones; $15 for the lower deck), and the difference in ticket prices should then be simply added to the regular season games.

    This is more than splitting hairs; as a long time season ticket holder, trust me, it’s hard to even give away preseason game tickets, but if the regular season games were priced higher to make up the difference at least those games could in most markets be resold for at least full face value.

    As most of you have pointed out time and time again though, it isn’t about us fans who pay the freight though.

  21. Yes, the reason why exhibition games are so valuable to the owners is because they are getting full regular season ticket prices from the season ticket holders (who of course buy the vast majority of the tickets), while not having to pay the players their regular season salaries.

    Not only are preseason games the biggest rip off in the history of mankind to the season ticket holders, but the starters are also getting screwed too, even though of course they play less than a quarter (on average across all four preseason games).

    Not only are preseason games not worth the price on the tickets, but they aren’t even worth the now high price of parking and concessions in most NFL cities either! 🙁

  22. In Chicago, you used to be able to park for free on the south side of the city and then walk about only a mile over the railroad tracks to get to Soldier Field.

    The Chicago Park District though controls the lions share of the parking, not only operating the big garage adjacent to Soldier Field, but also the tens of thousands of parking spots in the nearby Grant Park underground garages too.

    So the City of Chicago got smart and rezoned most/all of the available free street parking spots on the south side of the city to be “permit parking only”, so that Bear fans could no longer park there on game days, then the park district jacked up the price of parking on game days to $25-$45 per passenger vehicle, screwing Bear fans over just as the NFL does every chance it gets. 🙁

  23. As a season ticket holder for many years, this one issue always makes me think twice about renewing. The PreSeason. When I have to shell out over a thousand dollars every year, year after year for 2 totally meaningless scrimmages that I can’t even give tickets away for free, I have to wonder if the NFL cares at all for its paying fans. These “games” are an insult to every season ticket holder. The NFL greed and total lack of caring for it’s paying customers is sad. I will not shed a tear if we lose all 4 Preseason games this year, in fact, I am hoping for it.

  24. brucehumbert says:
    Jul 3, 2011 2:12 PM
    gdpont – would not hold my breath for a “refund” – that ain’t going to happen…

    Don’t like it?

    Turn in your season tickets…


    Don’t know what team your talking about but the Dolphins have sent out letters stating we will be refunded for any games not played, including preseason. I don’t know of any business that would not refund it’s customer if it doesn’t provide what is paid for. Your totally wrong.

  25. @Bucwild,

    It seems you don’t have your facts straight. The players are not on strike and would gladly play under the previous CBA. It is the owners who are seeking a greater percentage of the revenue and are locking out the players.

    So, to apply your logic to the actual facts, the owners are greedy and should be replaced (plenty of rich people out there would be happy with the opportunity to own an NFL team).

  26. Dolphins maybe – Steelers no…

    Folks – you are buying a SEASON ticket – it costs what it costs …

    For us steeler fans a game against the Ravens is worth two or three times what a game against the Browns is worth…

    The price printed on the ticket is the same – but irrelevant

  27. Dolphins weren’t the only team. It was league wide.

    Ticket holder has option, use toward following year or a refund. Simple as that.

  28. bucwild05 says:
    Jul 3, 2011 1:17 PM
    I am sorry if I don’t understand this… The owners own a team to make money. They pay millions of dollars every year to their employees (players), and these players are on strike to say pay us 48% of your profits???

    That’s the kind of thinking that has sunk the middle class and has over time given CEO’s 40% higher wages, while the workers have been at a stagnant wage since the 80’s…

    Fire the employees and see what happens to your profits when you bring in people who do a worse job.

  29. First, think of it (on a per game basis) as paying for the regular season games, and getting the pre-season thrown in for free. Otherwise, you drive yourself crazy. (The owners control the fact that you have to buy the pre-season games, and they will NEVER let you get by without paying for those games.) Two, those of you supporting the owners, please understand the owners think you are all a bunch of suckers. They’ve convinced you the players are at fault, but they determine the prices you pay: they raise the ticket prices each year, they determine the price you pay for parking, beer, souvenirs, food, and every other dumb thing you buy with their logo’s on them. The owners have conned you, and they are laughing at you — all the way to the bank. And when they see you sheep blaming the players, they know the ccon has worked its magic…

  30. This is 100% pure owner propaganda.

    For players under contract, the loss of preseason games will not cost them a single penny. Because they are UNDER CONTRACT.

    For free agents, the new CBA will have a much, much HIGHER salary cap floor than before, so the odds are that they will be paid MORE than before regardless of whether pre-season games are played or not.

    Rookies are screwed either way as there will be a rookie pay scale that will limit their pay far below their market value. But who cares about them?

    I repeat: losing pre-season games will not make ANY difference to players pay.

    The only losers will be the owners and seeing that the one and ONLY reason pre-season games would be missed is if the OWNERS continue their lockout of the players…


  31. Leagle911

    Do you really believe what you posted?

    The MARKET determines the price for season tickets!

    If my Steelers determine that $100,00o is a fair price for a season ticket how many do you think they will sell?

    Let me say it one more time – if you buy a season ticket you are buying the right to attend – or not – your choice – ten games.

    Some will be worth more than others

    Ravens – Steelers Priceless
    Bengals – Steelers negative $100
    Eagles exhibition game – negatve $250

    Just cause there is a number on the ticket does not make it “right”

  32. The article fails to explain how the players would be affected. Current contracts would obviously be honored at their current value. The lost revenue would apply to a future salary cap (presumably 2012) and thus the cap for that season would be lower. Players currently under contract would not be affected unless 2011 is the last year of their contract, or unless the franchise has to waive said player due to a lower salary cap. It is an impact, but I think it pales compared to what the owners will face for a lost preseason.

  33. I’m not sure how to oranize it but it is time for the fans to rise up and force a deal.
    The lockout has been really sick to watch and worry over all this time. Very hard on us fans.
    Please click like on the this notice to the NFL owners and players of a world wide pledge that if a deal is not reached by July 15th everyone will boycott the first game played. No buying tickets, no merchandise, no viewing the games, bars do not show the games, basically a complete boycott for one week. If the preseason is skipped then we pass on buying any NFL swag this year. Let’s take back the game folks, Power to the People! They would never think of pulling this kind of s@$t again and cause the fans, who are really 100% responsible for them having $9B to fight over, have to deal with this stupidity. Who’s with me!
    PS – You can still got to the sportsbar, just as long as you are waching MLB or Hockey. What the hell you can watch soccer too.

  34. Everyone speaks about the impact on the owners or the players. How about the impact to the game itself? Does anyone believe the fans will just forget all this as it continues?

  35. @ mediasloppy
    It already happened: CEOs were retained and the whole of employees were changed…LeviStrauss going 100% to a foreign country; how many “complaints” routed through an 800 number wind up in India. In fact, Walmart is massive because of foreign products…I don’t know if you can find a “made in America” sticker anywhere in Walmart. Yet everyone who fights for unions crowds into Walmart and other stores selling 99% foreign-made goods is putting unions out of business…or are unions with their high salary demands pushing business owners out of this country? When we are feeling patriotic, we refer to these businesses as running “sweat shops”; when we have to dig down in our pockets for cash, we blather what a deal we got at Walmart. The brand may be that of a well-known American company, but the sticker on the product says “made in China”.

    And so it is with American products made by “tough” and high-priced union hands: the public wants “cheap”, so companies “outsource”, and all we get is a “serviceable look-alike”…a flimsy and not-long-lasting product that merely “serves the purpose for now”.

    I hope this is not the direction of the NFL.

  36. I am saddened by the revelation that the players will lose money if the pre-season games are cancelled. It just tears me up to think of the hardships they will have to endure.

    The late mortgage payments, the late payment fees added to their auto loans, having to downgrade their cable subscriptions, having to cancel the curbside garbage pick-up and take it to the recycle centers themselves just to save $20 a month.

    Oh, wait a second, that’s me after having to accept a $1.50/hour paycut as well as reduced medical benefits just to keep my job.



  37. Unions had their purpose and their day way back when SOB’s like Pullman built their own towns for his workers so that he could bilk every last nickle out of his employees and when the coal mines ignored safety to save a buck.

    Those days though are now long since passed. Here in Southern California, despite a still staggering high unemployment rate the union grocery store workers are threatening a strike, despite the fact that hundreds, if not thousands of able bodied unemployed would jump at the chance to take their jobs for what they currently make.

    And as soon as ANY money gets freed up for public education, the unionized teachers are always the first ones in line with their hands out crying poverty, despite the fact that they all retire with lucrative pensions that only you and I could dream of.

    As for the idea of being able to purchase individual NFL games “ala carte” on cable, MLB allows that now but that’s not what I want either. What I want is the ability to purchase only the season for an individual team.

    I can’t justify paying the full season pass price for either the NFL or MLB, but if I could say purchase the entire season for $29.95 or even $34.95, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

    If I every do decide though to purchase an entire season for all teams (as I could do now), when it comes to MLB it would only be with the stipulation that if either Bobby Valentine or Tim Mc Carver is on ANY of the games that I tune in to, I get a full refund!

  38. @brucehumbert…

    I do believe what I wrote because until the stands are significantly empty and the owners are forced to reduce prices (neither of which is ever gonna happen), then the owners will continue to jack up prices.

    Bruce, the owners have you conned, and all the rest of America too. They have this thing completely rigged (anti-trust exemption AND setting their own terms for agency, salary caps, etc) in their favor, and the sheep are incapable of seeing it.

    I hope the players succeed…

  39. Leagle911…

    The owners do NOT determine prices – the market does…

    The owners have chosen to offer you and other fans a season ticket for a package of ten games for a set price – you are free to do a number of things.

    1. Accept their offer and go to all ten games
    2. Accept their offer and go to the 8 regular season home games – and toss away the two preseason games.
    3. Reject their offer and stay home and watch on TV…
    4. Heck you are even free to accept their offer and STAY HOME each weekend.

    But the point is that enough fans in markets like Green Bay and Pittsburgh ACCEPT the offer which makes the price for season tickets work.

    In some markets – Cincy and Miami not enough fans accept the offer to sell out the season tickets – so the Bengals and the Dolphins can
    A. Reduce price – and at some lower price they will indeed sell every season ticket.
    B. Leave the price [for the ten game bundle] high and try and sell enough individual game tickets to make the economics better than they would be by choosing option A.

    I am always amazed that folks feel the owners are free to charge any price they want – they can SET the price at a specific level and the MARKET will determine how many tickets are sold – not the owners. Set it too high and you will not sell out – set it too low and you will have long waiting lists like we do in the burg…

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