SBD/March 21, 2011/Franchises

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 10: Saints Not Planning Furloughs, Pay Cuts

Benson says Saints have renewed 98% of season tickets for '11 season
The "talk of furloughs and pay cuts percolating through the halls" of some NFL teams is "not heard" around the Saints, according to James Varney of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Saints Owner Tom Benson: "This is pretty much business as usual for us. I don't want our employees to feel sorry for themselves during this period of time. So we're not laying anybody off, and we're not cutting anybody's pay." Benson added of the NFL labor dispute, "Nobody wins in the courtroom, as far as I'm concerned. We've got to just sit down and work this out together and what's good for this game and the future of this game. If it costs so much to do business, then you've got to raise prices more. We've got to stabilize this thing across the board, and you've got to hold your costs someplace. And this is what we're trying to do." Varney noted NFL owners began meeting in New Orleans yesterday, and Benson "lobbied hard to get the meeting in New Orleans, an effort that began long before the current labor impasse, and was tied to the city's successful effort to land Super Bowl XLVII in 2013." Benson said the Saints have renewed 98% of season tickets. Benson: "That's money in the bank" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 3/20). Meanwhile, Texans Owner Bob McNair said that he "will not make employees take pay reductions or work furloughs unless games are canceled and the team has to refund season-ticket revenue." McNair: "We're not going to do that until we have to." McNair also said season-ticket sales are "slightly off from last year's pace, which was a record" with more than 64,000. McNair: "We're close to where we were last year. It's in line with what it was the year before" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/21).

STANDING ALONE: In N.Y., Bart Hubbuch notes the Giants are the "only team in the league not to require a payment from its season-ticket holders during the lockout." Giants President & CEO John Mara: "We've asked an awful lot of our season-ticket holders over the last few years in connection with this new stadium, so it was a gesture that (co-owner) Steve Tisch and I thought was a reasonable one to make. ... Everybody has their own individual circumstances. We shouldn't be singled out. I don't know that anybody asks what we've asked of our ticketholders that last few years" (N.Y. POST, 3/21). In contrast, the Steelers "expect fans to make season-ticket payments for the 2011 season." Steelers President Art Rooney II in a letter to season-ticket holders said, "Payments are due, consistent with past practices. ... We will provide refunds for any games cancelled." Payments are "due in full by May 2" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 3/19). Meanwhile, in St. Louis, Jim Thomas reported the Rams have sent a letter to season-ticket holders and sponsors, saying that "while frustrated that a new labor agreement is not in place, the Rams remain committed to the collective bargaining process and to federal mediation." The letter, which is signed by Rams Exec VP/Football Operations & COO Kevin Demoff, also "details the team's commitment to community service, charitable work, and being fan-friendly" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/20).

TOUGH TIMES IN TITLE TOWN: In N.Y., Bill Pennington noted the NFL lockout and the "threat of a canceled 2011 football season have disquieted fans in many American cities, but the unease in Green Bay is profound and multilayered." Pennington noted the Packers "have yet to accept an invitation to the White House, since team leaders did not think President Obama would want to welcome only Packers executives and coaches." They also "have not ordered their Super Bowl rings because they want to consult with the players, whom they are prohibited from contacting during the lockout." Green Bay Alderman Ned Dorff: "What a bad month. As one of my friends told me, 'I'll never forgive the NFL and [Wisconsin Gov.] Scott Walker for killing my Super Bowl buzz'" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/20).
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