Report: NFL Teams Agree to Raise Debt Limit to $500M amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2020

In this still image from video provided by the NFL, Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during the NFL football draft, Friday, April 24, 2020. (NFL via AP)
Uncredited/Associated Press

The NFL and owners agreed to increase the debt limit for the league's 32 franchises to $500 million because of the financial uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Seth Wickersham of ESPN reported the deal was struck during a conference call Monday. The previous debt limit was $350 million.

While debt limits are sometimes increased on a case-by-case basis, typically when teams are funding new stadiums, this is the NFL's latest attempt to combat the difficulties lying ahead due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league is currently planning to move forward with its 2020 schedule as normal, including fan attendance. It is highly unlikely that all 32 teams will all be in a position to allow fans into their stadiums by September; fan attendance and large gatherings may wind up being restricted in some areas until a COVID-19 vaccine is available.

The loss of gate revenue likely would cost teams hundreds of millions of dollars, potentially into the billions. Washington University sports business professor Patrick Rishe estimated the NFL would lose $2.3 billion if the entire 2020 season is played without fans.

While the league has a revenue-sharing program among its 32 teams and the collective bargaining agreement guarantees ownership a 50-50 split of all revenue, some teams could be hit harder by the pandemic. The Los Angeles Rams and Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders were set to open new stadiums in 2020 and have several billion dollars in investment hanging in the balance until fans are allowed to return