SBD/September 9, 2010/NFL Season Preview

NFL Notes: League Would Keep Retiree Benefits During Lockout

Martin Says NFLPA Claims Are Untrue

NFL Alumni Association Exec Dir George Martin has sent a letter to retired players, "telling them the league intends to continue funding pension and disability programs" if the CBA with the NFLPA expires in March. Martin said, "I have discussed this matter with Commissioner (Roger) Goodell on several occasions, and he has always assured me that retired player benefits will be protected, first in the uncapped year, and then if the CBA ... expires." Martin added, "I have seen the statements from NFLPA representatives that retirees will lose their benefits if the agreement expires. I am convinced that is not true, and have again asked Commissioner Goodell for his assurances on this point" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/7).

LOOKING DOWNFIELD: NFL Exec VP/Ventures & Business Eric Grubman yesterday reiterated that season-ticket sales "will be down" 1-2% this year. Grubman: "I wouldn't say we're pleased." He added, "It's hard to draw a pattern across 32 clubs. There are clearly some clubs that are down more than others. It would be a special circumstance for a club to be up. I think in general the trend is flat to down, and clubs that have perennially sold out tickets, they've probably held their own and are flat" (AP, 9/8).

RUNNING A TIGHT SHIP: CNBC's Kate Kelly noted NFL officials have made $50M "in budget cuts" and have "actually imposed this fiscal discipline on the 32 club owners." NFL officials have "asked them to do stress tests on their business to kind of see in various scenarios how their revenue stream would look." Kelly: "Some people aren't crazy about this, and they call the NFL the 'No Fun League' as a result. But it's something that may stay in the league in good stead as they try to navigate the next couple of years" ("Strategy Session," CNBC, 9/7).

DON'T TURN OUT THE LIGHTS: In Phoenix, Paola Boivin writes it is "time the league revisits this head-scratching policy" regarding local TV blackouts. What the NFL "fails to acknowledge is that attending a sporting event is a great way to experience community that people can't find anywhere else." Boivin: "What kind of league is it that punishes fans for not buying tickets?" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/9).

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