Tag Archives: Super Bowl

NFL Considers Move to 18-Week Schedule

9 Sep

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell has announced that he will push for a longer schedule, expanding the regular season from 16 to 18 games while shortening the pre-season from four games to two. The expansion would tack two games onto the end of the season, pushing the regular season into mid-January, with a Super Bowl taking place in the second half of February.

The plan faces objections from some players, facilities and other sports properties, but according to radio host Matthew Coller of Rochester, N.Y., the proposal could add $500 million to the league’s bottom line.

“The NFL makes approximately $4.5 billion on TV contracts alone. If you add two more games that’s essentially like adding 12 percent more to the season,” he said. “ESPN alone pays about $1 billion to have the NFL.”

The proposed expanded schedule is expected to be a bargaining chip during the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the players association, whose contract expires before the start of the next season. While the NFL Players Association has not taken a position against an expanded schedule, many individual players have spoken out, arguing that adding two games each year could potentially shorten a player’s career. Some fans have expressed opposition to an expanded schedule, Coller said, arguing that it could push up the price of tickets and add more end-of-season games that don’t matter. Last season, the Indianapolis Colts benched their starters for the final three games of the season after locking up a playoff berth, disappointing many fans who hoped the team would be competitive all season long. Plus two more games in January might be a hard sell to fans who live in colder climates like Green Bay, Wis., or Buffalo, N.Y.

For NFL venues, the new schedule could present a challenge to the already full booking calendar for many stadiums.

“We do a lot of business that time of year,” said Mark Miller, GM for Reliant Park in Houston. “We have a boat show, an auto show, a home show and many other trade shows.”

Doug Thornton, GM for the Superdome and senior VP for SMG, said that adding additional games isn’t particularly lucrative for stadiums.

“The net revenues generated from football events in our facilities go back to the team,” Thornton said. “It won’t be impactful to us either way as it relates to individual games. It will be impactful if we cannot host events that we would traditionally host during that period.”

Thornton said an expanded schedule could interfere with long-standing Mardi Gras events. The New Orleans tradition is based on the Easter calendar and doesn’t fall on the same dates each year. His tenant team, the New Orleans Saints, is expected to play far into the post season this year — the team won last year’s Super Bowl and quarterback Drew Brees is the highest rated player in the NFL.

Plus there’s the National Basketball Association’s All-Star game, which takes place weeks after football wraps up, and NASCAR and professional golf also host high profile events in February. Most sports would be loath to compete against the NFL. Last year’s Super Bowl was the highest rated television show of all time, drawing 106 million viewers. Often, an NFL preseason game can draw the same television rating as a World Series game.

Miller said he doubted that an expanded schedule would affect Reliant Stadium’s other tenant, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, but he did add that it might affect the stadium’s ability to host future Super Bowls.

Also watching the NFL schedule closely is Ken Hudgens of Feld Motorsports. The company typically tours Supercross and Monster Jam during those months, and said it’s spent years building a fan base around early winter shows.

“Right now, in the places that we’re playing stadium-wise that have NFL teams, we’re either working around their schedules in the off-week between the NFC-AFC Championship and the Super Bowl, or we’re rolling the dice in places like the Georgia Dome (Atlanta) and Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego) and hoping that a home playoff game doesn’t bump us out,” he said.

Goodell is expected to push the expanded schedule during the next round of collective bargaining talks, Coller explained, “because they hold all of the cards. Their $4.5 billion in TV contracts are guaranteed, whether the players play or not. The NFL still gets the money, while the players will be sitting on their hands not earning a dime” if they get locked out.

Regardless of what happens, Thornton said many facilities will work to give the NFL whatever it wants.

“Rest assured that we’ll make it work,” Thornton said. “As facility managers, it’s not who you book, it’s who you move around the schedule.” — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Matthew Coller, (585) 943-8110; Mark Miller, (832) 667-1775; Doug Thornton, (504) 587-3827; Ken Hudgens, (630) 566-6200

Short Takes

30 May

>> SUPERBOWL GOES TO N.J. — The National Football League has announced its 2014 Super Bowl will be played at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The league decided to return the winter game to a cold weather locale during its annual owners meetings at the new Cowboys Stadium in Irving, Texas.
Contact: Steve Bornstein, (212) 450-2000

>> U2 CANCELS REMAINDER OF U.S. TOUR — Irish rock superstars U2 have canceled their remaining US Tour after lead singer Bono suffered an injury. Currently on the second leg of its stadium tour, most of the dates will be rescheduled for 2011. The band has also canceled plans to headline the Glastonbury Festival in the UK.
Contact: Liz Morentin, (310) 975-6860