Monday, January 18, 2010

Could Irsay Help Kill the Superbowl in 2012?

Last week I begged your pardon for writing about the Colts because they’re “off topic” from my typical political posts. Now I wonder.

Listen to what the best writer in the game, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, has to say about the prospect of a lock-out in the 2011 season (which would mean no January 2012 Superbowl for Indianapolis):

At the core of the problem is ownership's demand for players to bear an equal part of the cost for stadium construction, debt service and upkeep -- and the players saying it's not their problem.

In NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith's recent e-mail to player representatives, he startled player leaders by saying ownership wanted to cut player compensation by 18 percent per year in the new CBA.

I thought the 18 percent number might be an exaggeration, a scare tactic to get players' attention. It's not. The owners, one management source said, have asked that the players' pool of revenue against which the salary cap is calculated be reduced by 18 percent.

You wonder what 18 percent means. So did I. The management source said the owners want $1 billion a year credited to ownership and not subject to being part of the pie that the players divide. "There's obviously been an enormous shift from public financing of stadiums to private funding,'' the management source said. "Those costs are not recognized in the current CBA, and we feel that has to change.''

But from the players' perspective, it's got to be a tough sell to union leaders. Imagine Smith going into a union meeting at a team and telling the players that the average compensation to the men in this room is about $1.8 million this year in salary and bonus payments, and explaining to them in a time of bountiful success for the NFL, each of the players is going to have to take, on average, a $324,000 pay cut. The players will never go for that, absent the owners being able to prove they're losing money in a time of unparalleled wealth in the league.

Okay, so let's think this through collaboratively, dear readers. "The owners," of which Irsay is one, claim they need to cut player salaries to pay for "the enormous shift to private financing" of stadiums. (Apparently, this "shift" to private financing happened right after we built Lucas Oil using a stadium full of tax dollars).

How in the world could Jim Irsay keep a straight face and vote for a salary cut for players on the basis of needing to pay for private financing and operations costs? Yet he needs to lead the revolt against this talk because, if he doesn't, there will be a lockout, and we will lose the 2012 Superbowl, a venture into which we've sunk dollars too plenty to count.

What makes this possibly even more ironic is that NFL costs overall are allegedly 51% payroll and the rest operational (including the aforementioned dome financing, maintenance, and operations). If we have a lockout, most owners will save on the payroll, but lose on the revenue and operation costs. Irsay won't lose on the latter because we're covering it all (see CIB bailout plan!).

In other words, the guy we're relying upon to talk some of these other owners off the ledge has less of an incentive than anybody in the league. Unless...dear God, somebody please tell me he doesn't get the money from the Superbowl concessions, too.



Paul K. Ogden said...

"the enormous shift to private financing" of stadiums"

I have to admit that I'm dumbfounded by this. When did this happen?

Brad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Had Enough Indy? said...

Outside of the New England Patriots' stadium being built by the team owner -- exactly what stadiums (?stadia?) have not used taxpayer funds? Inquiring minds want to know.

Lets face it, Irsay can get even MORE money if player salaries go down. It would simply be icing on the irony cake if Indy's 2012 superbowl got cancelled - with or without Irsay's vote.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Brad - Cowboy Stadium used taxpayer money.