Economic Crisis Will Hurt NFL Construction, Expansion

Scott HarrisContributor IOctober 8, 2008

A connection between the financial crisis and professional football may not be immediately assumed, but it is undoubtedly there. If things get as bad as many economists are predicting, the NFL could have a relatively rough go of it over the next eighteen to twenty-fours months.

Despite the game's popularity, tickets to sporting events are precisely the kind of luxury that Americans ditch during tough economic times. With ticket prices skyrocketing for game-day seats, even to watch the NFL's worst, many people find it fiscally impossible to attend the games. Even those that attend the games are unlikely to splurge at concession stands, a primary source of maintenance revenue for teams.

The credit crunch will also affect the NFL's ambitious stadium construction and expansion plans. Fans in Los Angeles can all but throw away their hopes of a franchise, as banks have become virtually unable to finance billion-dollar projects. Stadium re-construction in New York, Dallas and elsewhere will continue unabated, but project managers are conceding that many of the features promised at opening may need to be phased in as money becomes available. Financial experts consider investments in sport franchises to be among the best investments for banks, because of their high yield percentage, but it seems there simply is not enough capital to go around.

Commissioner Roger Goddell has sounded the alarm. He told a crowd of businessmen and university leaders in San Antonio that the NFL was not "recession-proof" and that owners and fans should be ready for tough times ahead.