NFL Commissioner: Recession is hard on football fans

01/30/09 Mitch E. Perry
Alan Watts

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell today addressed how the troubling economy is affecting what is considered America’s most popular sport.

Although there has been talk about how the recession is affecting the atmosphere around the big game this year, it’s hard for most bay area citizens to detect.

Prices to some of the biggest publicized Super Bowl parties this weekend still cost hundreds of dollars, and tickets for the game don’t appear to be dropping below face value, which are $800 and $1,000, respectively.

Nevertheless, Goodell said the recession is affecting the league in several ways – first and foremost with the paying customers.

Speaking at the Tampa Convention Center, Goodell said many of the league’s business partners are also going through difficult times. But he says his sport represents an escape from the problems of the world for a few hours.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced recently that the team will not raise ticket prices for 2009. That comes after the largest increase in club history. Goodell says most clubs won’t be hiking their prices.

Goodell also dealt with several questions regarding labor relations with the NFL Players Association.

Last spring, NFL owners opted out of the current agreement with the players, saying that giving all of the players 60 percent of all revenues is no longer tenable in the current economy.

That means this upcoming season is the last with a salary cap and the agreement terminates with an uncapped year in 2010. The NFL could choose to lock out the players in 2011 in the absence of a new contract.

At a news conference on Thursday, acting NFLPA Executive Director Richard Berthelsen said the players aren’t in the mood to give back anything.

Berthelsen also mentioned an economic analysis commissioned by the players union that shows that the league is doing just fine.

Richard Bethelsen is the Interim players union head, replacing the late Gene Upshaw, who died last year. The players are currently working on voting for a successor.

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