Sports Fans Coalition sent the following letter today to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in response to his letter to NFL fans on Monday.
January 4, 2010
Dear Mr. Goodell,
Yesterday, you sent a letter to fans of the NFL stating that “we can and will reach an agreement” with the player’s union on a new collective bargaining agreement. However, NFL fans everywhere deserve a guarantee that no games will be lost in 2011.
Sports fans and taxpayers around the country have already invested over $6.5 billion in NFL stadiums in the last 20 years, with nearly $4.5 billion coming in the last 10 years. These figures don’t include unreported subsidies, which could account for up to 40% more than reported costs. The very least the NFL can do is guarantee to the fans that the games will go on next season.
Sports fans and taxpayers around the country made these generous investments oftentimes after owners threatened to move teams to other cities if their demands weren’t met. These stadiums were touted as benefiting local economies by the owners – the same owners threatening to withhold the games, thus denying cities any of the purported benefits.
Regardless of whether fans in 28 out of the 32 NFL cities should have helped finance stadium construction and renovation in the last 20 years, they did. It’s up to the owners and the players to now ensure that the games will be played.
Nowhere in your letter did you mention the generous investment fans have made in these stadiums, which is not surprising considering the way the league continues to downplay this investment. Earlier this season you stated: “I think [new stadiums] are great for the fans, but the financing no longer comes from the public sector.” Really?
Fans in Santa Clara have agreed to contribute $444 million for a new home for the 49ers. And fans in Indianapolis might take exception to this, having set aside a staggering $720 million for the Colts’ new home just three years ago. In just the last five years, taxpayers have contributed at least $1.9 billion in subsidies to NFL stadiums.
In your letter to fans you wrote that economic conditions “have changed dramatically inside and outside the NFL since 2006.” You added: “Fans have limited budgets and rightly want the most for their money. I get it.”
No, Mr. Goodell. You don’t ‘get it.’ If you did, you would show greater appreciation for the fact that fans have already invested in their teams and they just want a return on their investment. Please guarantee to us that there will be a full season in 2011.
Sports Fans Coalition