SBD/Issue 169/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Upshaw Says He Does Not Believe That Teams Are Losing Money

Upshaw Says No NFL Team Is Losing Money
NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw said he does not believe any NFL club is losing money, but the union estimates that the average operating income per club had dropped from more than $30M before the '06 CBA to $18M. "That is what they are complaining about, the difference between that $30[M] and that $18[M]," Upshaw said yesterday during a meeting with a small group of NFL reporters in Atlanta. Upshaw noted that teams are using terms such as "financial stress," but said they are talking about lower profits rather than actual losses. Upshaw and NFLPA General Counsel Richard Berthelsen said they were able to estimate average operating income because the union has access to NFL team revenue and player costs. The union does not have access to nonplayer costs, but was able to estimate those through other sources, including disclosures by the Packers, the league's only publicly held team (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal).

FULL DISCLOSURE: USA TODAY’s Jarrett Bell reports in a meeting this month with the co-Chairs of the NFL owners’ primary labor committee, Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen and Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson, Upshaw’s “request for more financial disclosure was rebuffed.” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the league “offered to provide more financial data but pulled back after the union wanted to attach conditions ‘that we found unreasonable.’” Upshaw said that the conditions “were one-sided.” Asked if he expects owners eventually will concede to full disclosure, Upshaw said, “Not in a thousand years.” Richardson said that “opening the books to the union runs counter to his most basic business principles.” Richardson: “If labor law requires it, that’s a different issue.” Meanwhile, Upshaw reiterated that he “won’t step aside before players have a new CBA” (USA TODAY, 5/22).

SUPER IMPACT: In Indianapolis, Mike Chappell writes if there is an NFL work stoppage in 2011 and the 2012 Super Bowl is canceled, the “effect on Indy remains unclear.” Super Bowl sites for “subsequent seasons would likely have already been chosen.” The “most plausible possibility could be each site moving back a year in the rotation.” Goodell: “I think there has been some initial discussion on that, but we’re not that far down the road” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/22).

CBA THOUGHTS: With NFL owners opting out of the CBA on Tuesday, SPORTING NEWS’ Vinnie Iyer wrote both the owners and players “should see the NFL as an awesome profitable beast, and nothing is worse than a scenario where football isn’t being played. Something will be worked out in the next couple of years” (, 5/21). However, in DC, Dan Daly writes of the CBA, “This is why Paul Tagliabue is still waiting to get in the Hall of Fame -- because before he stepped down as commissioner in ’06, he pushed through a labor contract his bosses couldn’t wait to tear up.” It “looks like Upshaw got the better of him” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/22).

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