Goodell: Poor economy a challenge despite NFL's popularity

10/8/2008 - NFL

SAN ANTONIO -- The NFL faces challenges in weathering the economic downturn despite the game's popularity, commissioner Roger Goodell said on Wednesday.

Responding to questions during a business leaders luncheon, Goodell said the NFL is not recession-proof, citing stadium financing and struggles by the league's sponsors as specific problems.

Borrowing money has become difficult and expensive as credit has tightened, potentially hampering stadium projects, and many companies that the league relies on for sponsorships have had to cut back.

Fans, worried about their household finances, are feeling the effects also, he said.

"We're all feeling the pinch right now, some more than others, and it's something we want to remain sensitive to," Goodell said, speaking at the University of the Incarnate Word. The school next fall will field the city's first college football team since the 1970s.

San Antonio, a fast-growing city on the southern end of a football-crazy state, wants an NFL franchise, but Goodell said expanding the number of teams in the league isn't being seriously considered.

The only expansion being analyzed is the length of the regular season. He's said several times he'd like to move two of the four preseason games into the regular season, taking the regular season up to 18 games.

"I don't believe the quality of our preseason game is up to NFL standards," he said, though he noted no decision has been made on whether to pursue the expansion.

Such a move would require agreement from the players' union and changes to television contracts.