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NFL, players can't agree on impact

12/3/2010 - NFL

WASHINGTON -- The NFL and its players' union can't seem to
agree on much when it comes to their labor talks, including the
possible economic impact of a lockout.

The union estimates an average of about $160 million in local
spending and 3,000 jobs would be lost in each league city if the
full 2011 season were wiped out. Player salaries account for 30 to
50 percent of that $160 million, the economist who analyzed data
for the union said Friday.

"The point here is not to try to get sympathy to a group of
players or anything like that," union spokesman George Atallah
said. "It's just to identify the broader impact that this game
has."

When the union asked economist Jesse David to do that, he drew
information from 10 studies since 2002 estimating economic impacts
of new stadiums. David wanted to extrapolate the possible fallout
if all of the league's stadiums wind up empty because no new
collective bargaining agreement is reached in time to save next
season. One study was sponsored by an NFL team; the others by
stadium authorities or developers or the host state or
municipality.

"When the teams and the developers are seeking that money, they
often commission studies of the economic impact that a stadium and
the NFL operations in it will have on the local economy," David
said on a conference call arranged by the union. "Those numbers
are clearly relevant to the question of what will happen if NFL
activity stops."

David said the average, per-game impact would be about $20
million; the range runs from about $12 million to $40 million.

The studies he used involved a possible stadium for the 49ers in
Santa Clara, Calif., and current facilities used by the Chargers,
Colts, Cowboys, Falcons, Giants/Jets, Ravens, Saints, Texans and
Vikings.

"These 10 were taken as representative. They include teams in
large markets or high-revenue teams like the Cowboys. They include
smaller-market or lower-revenue teams, for example, like the
Saints. They run over a range of time periods from 2002 to 2010.
... We've assumed," David said, "that those as a group are
representative of the league more broadly. If they're not, then the
number could be slightly different."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote Friday in an e-mail to The
Associated Press: "The fairy tales continue."

In response, Atallah wrote: "Tell that to the mayor of Buffalo,
who estimated $140 million in lost revenues in one of the NFL's
smallest markets. Why don't you tell the hotels, bars, stadium
workers and people that support the game what they lose in an NFL
lockout?"

Aiello said the league does not have its own estimate of the
potential effects of a lockout on NFL cities. But he questioned the
validity of the union's numbers.

"None of these third-party studies cited today had anything to
do with the economic impact of a season-long work stoppage. If any
of this had credibility, each city would have its own figure,
taking into account all the relevant factors, such as stadium
capacity, fan base, and market demographics," Aiello wrote. "It's
unfortunate that the union has been circulating unattributed
research about the impact of a potential lockout and it's now clear
there is no such credible, original research done by the union, the
league, or anyone else."

The current CBA expires in March, and NFLPA executive director
DeMaurice Smith has said he believes owners are preparing for a
lockout. The home page of the NFLPA's official website features a
"Lockout Watch" that counts down the days, hours, minutes and
seconds until the CBA expires.

The players currently get 59.6 percent of designated NFL
revenues, a number agreed to in the 2006 CBA. The owners say that's
too much, arguing that they have huge debts from building stadiums
and starting up the NFL Network and other ventures, making it
impossible to be profitable.

"The purpose of this call, the purpose of us identifying these
issues, is simply to raise the public consciousness of the negative
impacts that a lockout would have," Atallah said. "If the owners
are going to lock out the players ... [players might be fine but]
many other people that support the game won't."