SBJ/Dec. 20-26, 2010/This Week's Issue

NFL considers hiring single vendor for stadium tech upgrades

The NFL is considering hiring a single technology vendor to upgrade NFL stadiums. The league is not close to putting out a request for proposals, but it wants to find a way to bring down the cost of rewiring stadiums. While some facilities like Cowboys Stadium and New Meadowlands Stadium have already done so at great expense, the NFL’s idea is that awarding a contract for dozens of stadiums to one company would bring the average cost down.

It’s unlikely the league would move on the idea, however, before a new collective-bargaining agreement is signed.

PLAYOFF CHANGES UNLIKELY: Despite the chances a team from the NFC West may win the division with a losing or 8-8 record and then host a playoff game, there did not appear much steam here to re-seed the playoffs based on record. Commissioner Roger Goodell said that while he understood the arguments, he thought the playoff system worked quite well. And New York Giants co-owner John Mara, who is sympathetic to changing the rule so the team with the better record hosts the game, said it is unlikely to change because there is great sentiment to having a division winner host a playoff game.

INSURANCE TO COVER REPAIRS: The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission said it is on the hook for only $25,000 for the roof collapse at the Metrodome, at least when it comes to the cost of repair. The commission, which owns the dome and leases it to the Vikings, has a policy with insurer Affiliated FM, though that policy has a $500,000 deductible, said Mary Fox-Stroman, the commission’s director of finance. The commission also has a policy on that deductible, however, with Arch Specialty, that will leave the commission with a $25,000 bill. That does not account for the lost revenue the club has suffered. Fox-Stroman wrote in an earlier e-mail that the commission has business-interruption insurance.

SUPERDOME VOTE: Sometimes it’s good to be the king, and sometimes it can be annoying. Just ask Tom Benson, the New Orleans Saints owner and chairman of the powerful NFL finance committee. The one NFL vote the league took here was for a new lease amendment to the Superdome. Was it a significant amendment? Hardly. The team’s agreement with the state required the government to build a certain number of suites by 2011. It finished the job a year early, so the team agreed to forward some of the $1 million it gained from having the extra suites early to the city. The city also added 40 new parking spaces. The lease had to be reworded to replace 2011 with 2010. And for that the league required a vote. Why? Dennis Lauscha, the team’s general counsel, said the league wanted to act out of an abundance of caution. It also probably didn’t want the appearance, meritless as it may have been, of the finance chairman pushing through his own lease amendment without league approval.

TRADE FOR YOUR QB?: Jonathan Kraft, president of the Kraft Group, which owns the New England Patriots, was having a good-natured conversation with Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, a successful real estate investor, and a divisional on-field rival. The conversation, which was about real estate, was loud enough to be heard nearby. And then Ross, obviously joking, said, “I’ll trade it all,” referring to some parcel of real estate, “for your quarterback. You have to think about that one,” Ross, of the quarterback-challenged Dolphins, said laughing to Kraft. Probably not. Tom Brady is truly irreplaceable, unlike real estate. Just ask the rest of the NFL.

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