NFL Seeks To Shorten Preseason, Empty Parking Lots Protest

Jon Z.Correspondent IMarch 27, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 09:  A view from the parking lot as fans begin to arrive before the Jacksonville Jaguars take on the Tennessee Titans at Alltel Stadium on September 9, 2007 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

"They paved paradise to put up a parking lot..." Joni Mitchell (1970)

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced earlier this week that the NFL is considering a plan to reduce the number of preseason games by as many as two before the 2011 season. However, this proposal has already caused an uproar.  

For NFL fans so sensitive to change, this is the type of knee-jerk reaction that could mar the NFL’s reputation for years. Dare I type the acronym that shall not be typed—USFL?

I was told by a seven-year veteran who declined to be identified that he looked forward to playing one series in front of 37 people, taking a shower, and "getting his Goose on" before the third quarter.  

Fans and players aside, it’s the 32 NFL franchises that will bear the financial brunt of this change.    

"How are we supposed to survive?" questioned Carl Creed, head of the Detroit Parking Authority, responsible for the maintenance of all Ford Field parking lots.

"We rely on parking revenue outside and $17 nachos inside to keep this franchise afloat. The fans that came last week for the Lions/Bengals opening preseason game are just as valuable as those for a Thanksgiving Day game, and so what if they aren’t the actual season ticket holders?”  

This proposed rule change has not gone unnoticed in other cities either. In fact, Oakland, Cincinnati, and Kansas City have all voiced their displeasure, insinuating that their teams' failures cannot be attributed to poor drafting, personnel or coaching decisions, but based primarily on August preseason fan attendance.

On March 25, 2009, the Cincinnati Parking Authority (CPA) sought class action status on behalf of all NFL franchise parking lot authorities and filed for injunctive relief in New York Federal Court, seeking a determination that the NFL's proposal be overturned as arbitrary and capricious in violation of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.

After both sides burned the midnight oil briefing issues and lining up witnesses, the parties were summoned to an emergency meeting before The Honorable Arthur Van DeLay to discuss the potential for settlement. 

While the terms of the settlement have not yet been completely finalized, we have learned that a compromised has been reached, subject to NFL, NFLPA, and CPA approval. 

The proposed settlement seeks to add two additional regular season games by 2011 and remove two preseason games.