Lockouts Showing Who is Always On The Losing End

Allow me to speak for every NFL and NBA fan (which I am not really one of) when I say, end the lockouts.  I know there is a supposed end to the NFL lockout coming next week, but are we sure that date is set in stone?

Get it figured out, do not miss any of the season and just play ball.

While I understand the reasons for the work stoppages & lockouts, as a fan of football I want this to get settled and figured out as quickly as possible.  For basketball fans, you have a little time but not too much time.  That one should be over soon as well.  But all fingers point to non-favorable odds.

In the same breath, I am not going to stay glued to the television, internet and newspaper like this is some breaking news story.  Just get these issues solved and let all of us fans know when you are done so we can watch our teams again.  Let us know so we can prepare for fantasy leagues and get our gear together for tailgating.

When the battle is millionaires (players) versus billionaires (owners), it is difficult to pick a side. Most of America and myself are on the side that ends these lockouts and gets them back on the field and court ASAP.  More importantly, I am on the side of the fans who are always the silent majority in these cases.

Maybe if our side had seat at the negotiating table then these issues would get solved a little quicker.

While these lockouts are more complicated than strictly millionaires versus billionaires, money is basically what is keeping the leagues from operating as normal. But it is hard for fans to care about millions of dollars being exchanged when some struggle to make ends meet on a weekly basis.

Reaction to the lockouts have been mostly passive so far but if regular season games are missed due to the work stoppage then expect the fans to ignite with anger. Fantasy football owners are already starting to undergo anxiety and withdrawal symptoms because their annual shot to look like a football genius with a witty team name is in jeopardy.  But in one week, that could all change, supposedly.

With the NBA only entering a lockout a few weeks ago, the NFL has seen the effect that the work stoppage has had so far. One year after setting an NFL Draft record of 8.3 million viewers, viewership fell to 7 million for the first round this year. Ticket sales are down and NFL.com’s traffic has decreased also.

Luckily for football fans, the NFL has too much to lose for them to miss some, if any, of the regular season. As America’s new favorite pastime, NFL reigns king over all other American sports in terms of viewership, revenue and popularity. Missing regular season games would kill part of the momentum that the NFL currently has.

With most training camps supposed to start soon, these next few weeks will be essential in ending the NFL lockout so that the season can semi-start on time. There has yet to be a free agent period and once that happens mayhem will occur with teams scrambling to sign players. If you are upset about preseason games possibly being missed, well you are on your own there.

For the NBA, things look even bleaker. Former NBA legend and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley recently stated that, “It’s going to get ugly. I’ve already been on the record saying I don’t think they’re going to play at all next season.” Those cannot be good words to hear for NBA fans.  The last time a league halted play was the NHL in 2004-2005.

But with the NFL and NBA lockouts in full swing it gives other sports attention they might not have gotten before. The MLB slides into the top sport and should be able to continue to build off of its strike in 1994-1995. Other sports organizations such as the NHL, MLS, WNBA, NASCAR and PGA all stand to benefit from the NFL and NBA work stoppages.

Entering this fall, the NCAA counterparts of the NFL and NBA will garner most of the attention and might be the only national exposure of both basketball and football if the lockout continues.  NCAA Football 12 was just released for all game systems.  Madden 12 comes out in a few weeks.  Some might look forward to that more than the regular NFL season.

But hopefully for the sake of both sports’ fanbases the players and owners work out their issues and not only do what is best for the sport, but for the people who help support and fund them, the fans.

With One Lockout in Place, Another Seems Likely

Sports fans of all sports are battling what seems to be a hydra. A four headed monster of a CBA whose heads are the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA.  The first head of the NFL seems to hurling fire at the fans and they are reeling. It seems no matter what the fans do, there is nothing that can make  the NFL take notice .

The remaining heads have the fans against the NBA, MLB and NHL with their collective bargaining agreements expiring today, December 2011 and September 2012 respectively. If the fans fight the way they have in against the NFL, it is most likely that the fans will have no chance against the bigger monster that is professional sports.

Here we are in month three of the lockout, there have been rumors over the past week that the two sides may be getting close to an agreement. Unfortunately, these recent actions have absolutely zero to do with players and owners being afraid of their fans reactions. To date, the most the fans have done is briefly chant “we want football” at the beginning of the NFL Draft in April, and participate in Roger Goodell’s joke of a conference call tour with hand picked fans from across the country.

Other than that, there has been a Marcel Marcel like silence from fans related to the latest insult by a league generating over $9 billion a year in profits; keep in mind that $9 billion comes from the pockets of the fans.

The NBA is close to having their lockout as well.  Both sides have the same issues that keep them from making any settlement.  Now this could be another lockout in the same year fans will have to go through.  There are plenty of football fans that are also basketball fans.  How slighted do fans feel knowing they will not be able to enjoy two of their favorite sports.

The current CBA, which was negotiated six years ago, is set to expire at the end of the day. However, team owners and the players’ union remains “worlds apart” in critical issues and aspects of the CBA including salary cap, salaries,  and league revenue-sharing.

The negotiations need to make “significant progress” in order to avoid a dreaded lockout, the Associated Press reports. The last NBA lockout came in 1999 resulting into a shortened NBA season, significant drops in gate attendance and television ratings and hundred millions in lost salaries and league revenues.  Not to mention merchandise sales and fans interest in the sport which has just began to pick up in recent years.

Team owners are pushing for a harder salary cap as 17 out of the 30 NBA teams have lost money last year. In fact, storied NBA franchises such as the New Orleans Hornets and the Sacramento Kings experienced well-documented financial woes during the season, resulting to the Hornets being sold to the NBA while the Kings almost relocating to Anaheim, California.  In MLB, the Los Angeles Dodgers have also been run by the league due to financial issues. 

Team owners and representatives from the players’ union can still meet after the expiration of current CBA but that depends on the progress of the talks scheduled today. With just hours before the end of today’s deadline, the NBA is on the verge of experiencing its first lockout since 1999.  Fans are on the verge of not just being caught in the middle again, but facing the loss of another sport’s season. 

The NfL and the players could set a precedent on how the other leagues might have to handle their CBA’s.  Keep in mind, back in 1999 and 1987, there was no social media.  In 1999, the internet was in its infancy.  There was only the traditional print and broadcast media.  Everyone is under a larger microscope and news is reported everywhere about everything.  The NBA needs to take note from what the NFL did in order to make things run more smoothly.

The fans need to come together in some fashion.  Keep speaking out through whatever voice you have freedom to use.  We all need to show not just our displeasure with these owners and leagues, but that we are an integral part of their discussions.  In the end, it is our hard earned dollars that make sure there is a league.  Without fans, who would they play for?  Themselves?  There is no money in that.

Players & Fans Wait Together On End To NFL Lockout

When sports crown a new NBA champion & NHL Stanley Cup winner, it begins the summer sports lull that is usually filled by the start of NFL mini-camps and the start of training camp.  A buzz normally fills the air on what teams are looking good in training camp, even before the preseason opener.

This year is different. This year we are being submitted to endless baseball highlights & whatever else ESPN can show during SportsCenter due to continued arguing over a billion dollar industry.  A summer that should be filled with players and teams preparing for gridiron battle.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has reduced his pay to $1 for the duration of the lockout. With each passing day not being paid, players miss out on crucial practices and playing tim. However, fans have it much worse: they are stuck at home with no hope of a Super Bowl come January. Stuck with Packers fans bragging about their epic title run.  Stuck talking about a season that may never come.

Goodell says that the lockout isn’t just to benefit players and owners though; fans will benefit as well.  Fans never benefit when players and owners talk about what money they are owed.

Fans wait to make certain decisions before the season starts.  What single games do they want to purchase, what away games to attend, what to buy in preparation for tailgating, when to buy that new HDTV, and other decisions usually made before football begins.

Certain fans have already given up their season tickets.  Some have had it with riisng ticket prices and others just feel the lockout was the last straw in seeing how little the fans mean to the NFL.  Some Jets fans have not just given up their seats, but trying to sell their PSL’s as well.

“That’s why we are trying to get a better economic model” Goodell told reporters last week. “And I think everyone understands that. You (the fans) are not being left out of the equation. The fans are a big part of that equation and a big part of the success of NFL football.”  He sees costs being passed down to the fan that would be prevented with a better business model.  Costs are already too high so any economic change for the fan is good.

Free agency is a critical time for teams to acquire new players to help supplement their squad. The big signings that occur every year and change the landscape of the NFL excite fans for the coming season. This is when we can stop talking about the Super Bowl champion and have a reason to feel that this year is different.

Last year former Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers was probably the biggest name amongst free-agent signees. Peppers went on to be a contributor for the Chicago Bears with 8 sacks against constant double teams. Bears fans were sure they were on the right path to win the big game.

Kenny Britt awaiting judges decision. Credit: NJ.com

This year it’s supposed to be whatever team can land Nnamdi Asomugha, a cornerback who has proven that he can shut down half the field. Unfortunately, he won’t find a home until the lockout finally comes to an end.  Same goes with the NFL rookies.  Drafted by their new organizaton, they can not be signed or talked to.

Our favorite players are also getting into trouble because they have too much time on their hands.  Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt was charged with resisting arrest and tampering with evidence this week when he crushed a joint as police approached him.  The police didn’t find any drugs on him, but this is likely a situation that would have been avoided if players were focused on the season.

Now the Titans are entering the season with a diminished receiving group and are likely facing another sub-par year.  Less time to work with coaches, less time to improve.

Former Giants and Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress just got out of jail but can’t sign with a team because of the lockout.  The best he can do is workout and practice with others so he can get into some kind of playing shape.

Formerly a dynamic game changing receiver and Super Bowl hero, Burress will enthuse the fans of whatever team he goes to – if and when he does actually get signed.

I hope Goodell is sincere that the resulting post-lockout business model reduces costs that are being passed down to fans. We are the reason the league is so successful, and the more of the league year us fans lose to the lockout the more interested we will become in things not related to the NFL.  Goodell should learn from what happened to MLB and the NHL.

Whose Business Hurts If There is No 2011 Football Season?

Tuesday nights I am a panelist on Pro Football NYC presented by Football Reporters Online that airs on Blog Talk Radio.  We talk Jets and Giants football and it is usually a lively discussion.  Bu since the lockout, there has not been much to talk about.  Sure there was the NFL Draft, the court dates, Jets West, Eli Manning holding some practices in Hoboken, and some other tidbits.  But there has not been any concrete story to talk or report on.

Last Tuesday we did a show on the fly.  A lot of the topics were done on the cuff.  It was a great show, do not get me wrong, but we were grasps at straws for topics.  All of a sudden I thought of an issue regarding the lockout.  An issue some may have touched on but very, very few report on.  We all know the players, teams, and the NFL are being hit financially by the lockout and possibly no 2011 NFL season.  But what about the other businesses that derive revenue off football before, during, and into the post season?  This can range from sports bars to merchandisers.  From the NFL Sunday Ticket package to beer sales.

There are many businesses that look forward to not just football on Sunday’s, but for the season.  Many start to see sales increase and more visits to their website the closer it gets to the preseason.  There is a certain itch people get.  When you know your draft for fantasy football is around the corner, so is the preseason.  Many businesses gear up because they know fans and customers will be spending extra dollars on football related businesses.

But, if there is no 2011 season, many businesses will see a downturn.  There will be losses in sales, establishments will not be visited as much, food service workers may not receive the same level of tips on Sunday, on top of a chain reaction of businesses losing football season generating revenue.  Let us do a rundown of some businesses that might be affected.  If you believe more might be affected, feel free to contact me or list them in the comments.

Sports Bars/Restaurants
This seems to be the obvious place to start.  Every Sunday, if one is not home or at the game, one is out with friends to watch the game and throw back some beers and wings.  There are countless places across the country where many go to watch their favorite team and other games.  There is the 1 PM game, 4:15 PM game, and the 8:30 Sunday night game.  We can not forget about Monday Night Football here as well.  The sports bars always play more than one game to keep fans there and ordering.  These are times where people flock en mass and order up round after round and appetizer after appetizer.

These establishments know they will be busy and place larger orders so there is enough on hand.  They expect to make more money than usual.  Beer, liquor, dinners, appetizers, and so much more are expected to be ordered in mass quantities.  Servers and bartenders expect to make more than usual as patrons are expected to fill some of these places.  I would not be surprised if some make several hundred in a matter of hours.

Sights like these could be a memory on Sunday's during the season

Now, if there is no football, those places will not be as busy.  Beer sales will be down which will affect the beer companies.  If the same quantities are not ordered as on a football Sunday the suppliers to these establishments will also see a decrease in sales.  Servers will see a decrease in tips and revenue.  Some bars and restaurants may not need extra help and not have as many workers on the schedule.  Anyone associated with business at a bar or restaurant on a football Sunday will see a drop in business that day.

Sports Merchandise/Sporting Goods
This is a business that I am sure has started to take a hit.  Before any season begins many go out to get their new jerseys, hats, shirts, sweatpants, sweatshirts, flags, magnets, and anything else that shows how much of a fan they are for their team.  This is the time many stock up, to find the latest and greatest to showcase their team spirit.  But if there is no game to attend, no tailgating, no bar to go to in pride, does it matter if you went and bought the latest and greatest?

Many fans will go out and buy certain draft picks jerseys before or during the preseason.  With the draft picks not signed to their teams how could they make these jerseys?  We are less than 100 days away from the start of the 2011 season and I am sure not much merchandise is being moved right now.  Many are content to wear or use the items they have had for a while now.

With no football games of any kind, there is no merchandise to sell at any stadium.  There is a loss right there.  Not just to the companies like Starter, Reebok, Big Apple, and everyone else that put out the clothes and sporting goods, but the teams and league itself.  Reebok has an exclusive contract with the NFL to manufacturer all NFL apparel.  They will take the biggest hit.  If Reebok does not make a profit, neither will the NFL or the teams.  It is the trickle down effect.

Will fans still purchase merchandise if there is no football?

The NFL makes money off the licensing agreement.  They also see a piece off what Reebok sells.  The teams also see a piece of anything that is sold with their name on it.  But with no season for fans to show off their wares at a game or tailgating, what good is it?  To have it and hold onto it for next season?  Some will still go out and buy what they can in hopes their is a season.

Let us take an example.  Reebok has replica jerseys from $55-$85 a piece.  Actual jerseys can range from $100 on up, depending on where you buy it.  If at minimum 100,000 jerseys are bought at those prices you can see the millions that could be made if there is a football season.  We are not taking into account the other sporting goods and t shirts, hats, jackets, sweatshirts, and countless other merchandise.

For those who tailgate who adorn their home with the latest wares, there is a loss there.  Many could still just use what they have and not bother to get anything new.  No need for the new grill, tent, cooler, flags, chairs, tables, or anything else many add to their tailgate.  Now this may not be a big business changer but if companies do produce more because they see a slight increase because of football, they may not happen now.

Advertisers
Think of all the commercials one sees during a football game.  The car commercials, beer commercials, electronic ads, and so much more.  If they are not buying the time, the network does not get paid to air those ads.  The companies whose ads are on TV may not be able to reach their target audience they get with football.  They may still run ads, but not the same volume as they would during a Giants vs Cowboys game.  Not having the right placement for ads can hurt sales for a business.

The other way advertisers can be hurt is no one at the stadium sees their logo or ads.  There are sponsors for post game shows, pre game shows, stadium entrances, and the stadiums themselves.  There are so many ads being paiod for at the stadium.  If no season, no ads and the teams lose out on that advertising revenue.  Pepsi may see a drop in soda sales on Sunday.  Companies who have promotional days will not be able to get their name out to fans.

Advertising helps to bring in revenue teams and networks count on.  Without that, they need to find alternate methods to keep their advertisers happy.  Look for ways or broadcasts to push their brand and still reach the public and demographic they look to get from football.  Teams and the NFL are already cutting costs how they can.  If they can not generate revenue from outside sources, employees may not return to work sooner than they think.

There could be no one around to hear or see ads for products and not visit merchandise stands

Now, this could all change if there is a football season this year.  But even if there is a shortened season and no preseason, businesses will still see a small effect.  I know there are many other businesses that will see the effect if there is no season.  I just wanted to bring attention to what could be a loss of revenue to other businesses rather than just the NFL, teams, and players.

Many are out of work or have seen a loss of income due to the down economy.  If there is no 2011 season, many will feel the chain reaction of the lockout into their businesses.  Many look forward to certain sports seasons.  Some companies cater to those who are sports fans or involved with teams and leagues.  If there is no season, I am confident people will feel a hit to their bottom line.

Everyone wants the 2011 season to happen.  There are a few who will remain nameless who do not care if the season happens.  But from the fans, to advertisers, to business owners, to those who make any profit off the football season, we all want to see kick off.  Sports writers and beat reporters more than anyone want the season.  They need training camp and the season to have fresh material to write about.  No one more than the fans want to see the season happen.  Well, maybe not more than the players, or those who will see an increase to their bottom line.

NFL Lockout Not The Worst In Sports, Yet

With NFL labor talks in a standstill, it’s quite possible that there will be no football played in the states this coming September.  If you think you’d get a bad case of football withdrawal by next week, wait ‘til September when you’d be madly searching for the Toronto Argonauts-Ottawa Rough Riders epic somewhere on the Internet.  Or maybe catch that Arena League game on the NFL Network you have been waiting to see.

More sports leagues than the NFL have issues that might be halting play before next season. All four major sports leagues are facing potential shutdowns. It wouldn’t be the first time for stadiums & arenas to have no cheering fans in them, either. Baseball has had eight work stoppages, the NHL and NBA three apiece, and the NFL two. Some lasted a few days, others a few weeks, and one even wiped out the whole entire season and the playoffs.

To be sure, labor trouble isn’t confined to American sports. Sports leagues from Asia to Europe have had games canceled or postponed because of issues between players and management. As professional athletes earn more money, their collective representation becomes more powerful. And with additional revenues coming from television, endorsement deals and increased attendance, millions and billions of dollars are at stake in these negotiations.  No matter what country you play in, there is always a debate over money.

Sometimes the players have their way. Baseball, in particularly, has the most powerful union and its players have been able to get the owners to cave time and again because of their solidarity. At other times, the owners win big. The best such example was the 1987 NFL strike, in which the owners all but annihilated the players union by fielding replacement players (scabs) and cracked the union ranks by encouraging stars to cross the picket line.

1982 NFL Strike Sports Illustrated Cover

And there are cases when strikes are purely symbolic, with both the players and management unable to do much about decisions made by a higher power. No, God may not care who wins or loses, but courts surely decide arguments in someone’s favor and it’s not always strictly along labor lines.

The 1995 Bosman Ruling by the European Court of Justice, which caused a brief strike in Italy’s Serie A, famously made a few players and teams very rich while leaving others – players and teams alike – either without a job or bankrupt.  Sometimes it is not up to the players or the teams to show who has the true power in negotiations.

When courts don’t intervene, it’s then up to the warring sides to come to some kind of middle ground. While the average fan cannot find himself sympathizing with either the millionaires or the billionaires, it’s important to realize that professional sports is a business that goes way beyond the fun and games.  There is more concern for the dollars lost & gained rather than the faces in the crowd.

George Santayana famously cautioned, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Well, no time is like the present for some history lessons. Let’s recap some of the pasts strikes and work stoppages to see just how sports has not just affected the players and owners, but the fans as well.

NHL 2004 Lockout

The NHL became the first major North American sports league in history to cancel a whole season, as recently as 1994-95, over a labor dispute. For the first time since 1919, the Stanley Cup was not awarded at the end of the season. That dispute — where the main issue was the salary cap — lasted 310 days and caused the cancellation of 1,230 games.

A salary cap was instituted, to be adjusted annually to guarantee players 54 percent of NHL revenues. A salary floor was also implemented, and player contracts were to be guaranteed. Revenue sharing and two-way salary arbitration were ushered in.

1981 MLB Strike

The 1987 season was the last time the NFL experienced a work stoppage. Players went on strike as they argued for liberalized free agency rules. However, only 14 games were lost that season and it was seen as a big win for the owners.  42 were played by the replacement players.

The league had another work stoppage in 1982, the result of a players’ strike over the sharing of revenue with owners. There were 98 games canceled that season and by the time play resumed, both sides claimed victory.  It seems with the NFL, history does repeat itself.  Despite abbreviated regular seasons in both strike years, the NFL still staged the Super Bowl.

The main issue in this year’s ongoing NFL labor dispute revolves around the splitting of a $9 billion revenue pool. Owners want a bigger share while players are reluctant to agree until they’re provided with transparent financial data from the league. Other issues under discussion & dropped are: expanding the regular season to 18 games (not happening), instituting a rookie wage scale, and improving benefits for current and retired players.

The 1998 NBA season was shortened from 82 games to 50. A total of 928 games were lost.  It was the first NBA work stoppage that resulted in a loss of games.

The owners wanted a cap for the league’s highest paid players and a larger share of the revenue. The players were relatively happy with the current structure but wanted an increase to the league minimum. The lockout swung in the owners’ favor when an arbitrator ruled that the owners didn’t have to pay the players their guaranteed salaries while play was halted.

Commissioner David Stern set a deadline of Jan. 7 to get a deal done or he would cancel the season. A deal was reached on Jan. 6 that most believe favored the owners.  Salaries were capped at $9-14 million, depending on years of service and a pay scale was put in place for rookies. There was a modest raise to the league minimum.  A first in NBA history.

The NBA was at its peak before the lockout and it took a big hit. Attendance and TV ratings declined and its biggest star, Michael Jordan, retired during the lockout. Only recently with stars like Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard and LeBron James has the NBA been able to fully recover.  The NHL saw a similar decline after it lost a year of play.

1987 NFL Strike

After the NHL, the next-highest number of games lost because of a work stoppage have both occurred in Major League Baseball. There were 920 games canceled in the 1994-95 strike, including the 1994 World Series. MLB also lost 712 games because of another strike in 1981.

In all four major North American sports leagues there seems to be a continued dispute in the same areas: salary and salary cap, revenue sharing from both the team and media outlets, and miscellaneous financial alternatives.  This years NFL debate is the first one to have a suit centered on retired players health care.  One will wonder if the other leagues will follow suit when the time comes.

There are labor disputes all the time.  The Teamsters, AFL/CIO, UFCW, Air Traffic Controllers, Cab Drivers, and dozens of other unions have either gone on strike or had a work stoppage.  They get attention from everyone, but not the same amount professional sports gets.  Plus, fans always seem to be caught in the middle of a sports strike or lockout.  You do not see fans complaining when Wal Mart employees are not working, do you?

As it stands now, football seems like a dream come September.  The other major sports in North America seem to have their issues looming on the horizon.  This is a vicious cycle.  If the players and owners can not learn now, then when will they?  How long do they expect the fans to to wait?  No matter what sport you follow the most,  when there is a strike or work stoppage, the fans seem to wait for the outcome more than the parties involved.

(Statistics & dates compiled from Wikipedia)

American Dream Project Will Benefit Jets, Giants, & Meadowlands

Standing in a building that has remained unchanged and likely to get over $200 million in tax incentives, Gov. Christie ushered in the arrival of the “American Dream” in North Jersey last week.  The much-maligned and long-stagnant Xanadu development at the Meadowlands, which Christie called the “the ugliest damn building in New Jersey, and maybe America,” along with everyone else who drives by it, will get a makeover by the Canadian developer who built Mall of America in Minnesota.

Next to the Jets and Giants stadium, with a dead-on view of the Manhattan skyline, the newly minted complex, called American Dream at Meadowlands, will feature high-end shopping, a 26-screen movie theater, nightclubs, a performing arts theater, restaurants, an indoor ice-skating rink, and an indoor ski slope (with moguls and a snowboard half-pipe), according to Triple Five, the developer.

Governor Chris Christie, NJSEA Advisory Chairman Jon Hanson and Triple Five Chairman Nader Ghermezian announced plans to operate the retail and entertainment complex called American Dream Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J Credit: Retailtrafficmag.com

And in a structural addition to the original Xanadu, there will be glass-domed amusement and water parks – with sand and palm trees.  Triple Five has been know to do this in Mall of America and other malls across Canada.  They design their malls to be places of destination for everything under one roof rather than finding entertainment is several locations.

Reuters reported that Triple Five  will be developing the world’s largest and most comprehensive retail, entertainment, amusement, recreation, and tourism project ever built.  Not a bad way to help crate jobs and revenue for New Jersey.  The economic impact for New Jersey would be $3.8 billion according to Triple Five.

Many might wonder how this will benefit the Jets and Giants.  What this will do is add options to fans and families for weekend getaways.  So instead of a Sunday of football, there is a weekend of activities.  The Jets and Giants could run activities a few days before across the road to get people psyched up for Sunday’s game.  Not to mention tie ins and other pregame festivities run by the organizations.

Show up on a Friday night to a local hotel and have dinner at American Dream and do whatever fun activity there is to do.  There is something there for every member of the family.  On Saturday one can do so much in one location, why go anywhere else?  Sunday is football.  Those not attending the game will have restaurants to watch the game in, some will shop as other family members attend the game.

The project will get at least $200 million in tax incentives from the state, Christie said at a news conference last Tuesday inside the 2.4 million-square-foot, partially built structure. But he refused to provide more details about the deal his administration worked out with Triple Five.  I am sure a lot of those breaks also include some incentives for certain NJ politicians.

The Sierra Club blasted the arrangement, releasing a statement even before the media tour of the facility was over.  The environmental group said American Dream, sitting on the most valuable piece of real estate in New Jersey, would end up getting $350 million in tax subsidies once it expands, as it has planned.  If NJ is in need of the business, jobs, and revenue, there should be not be given that much tax subsidies, but then again, NJ tax payers do not make those decisions.

The planned American Dream after completion Credit: NJ.com

Triple Five may want to call this the American Dream, but it is a nightmare to taxpayers that will pick the pockets of us regular New Jersey citizens.  It is ludicrous that at a time when many are hurting financially, local governments are broke, and property taxes are rising, that we are subsidizing this monster mall.

According to the Christie administration, the complex will create more than 9,000 construction jobs and 30,000 permanent jobs once it opens. Officials expect between 50 million and 60 million annual visitors, with half of them tourists.  Expect big numbers on football weekends as well.  I am sure the teams will set up weekend packages with tickets.

Most of American Dream will open in the fall of 2013, in time for the Super Bowl scheduled to be played at the new Meadowlands stadium.  One will wonder if American Dreams theater’s will air the Super Bowl to keep patrons there.  I am sure screens will air it all over the place to keep people shopping, riding rides, and doing what it takes to keep them there to spend money.

Triple Five plans to invest $1.5 billion atop the $2 billion already spent there, and expand by nearly a third, or one million square feet. The existing structure is well on its way to completion, with extensive aesthetic changes planned. Other essentials – such as escalators and the ski lift – also are in place.

One can only wonder if the expansion will take up more room in the non PSL parking.  Will it create trouble for those parking by the Izod Center?  Will this expansion do anything to disrupt the tailgating that goes on.  No one can tailgate in the parking garage so that is out.  Also, with the building through 2013, how will this affect fans parking for Jets and Giants games?  We can only wait and see.

The theater at American Dream will have seating for 2,000 to 3,000 people. Screens in the center of the complex will change colors on football game day, depending on whether the Jets or Giants are playing next door. And there are plans to build either a bar or movie theater on an outdoor patio that has spectacular views of New York, about 10 miles to the east.

Current Xanadu structure.......bleech!!! Credit NJ.com

Most of all, Triple Five vowed to replace the massive multicolored exterior panels, so hated by Christie and most of us here in New Jersey.  Driving by it it looks like a rust colored piece of trash.  Triple Five plans to give it a more glowing feel so people will be amazed at it look from a distance.

The Jets and Giants have both been waiting for someone to pick it up across the road.  With the American Dream coming in, it can only help their overall business from an off the field point of view.  It provides more opportunities to hold events.  The restaurants, stores, and other facilities might even have events or specials to help draw customers to spend more.  Clothing stores will have sales on jets and Giants merchandise so fans can have it in time for the game on Sunday.

I am sure Triple Five has been in touch with the Jets and Giants.  To see what opportunities it can provide each other.  Not to mention what it can do to help each other make more revenue during the 2014 Super Bowl.  Triple Five knew the opportunity and make a calculated decision.  The NY teams will have a presence at American Dream.  Might even see ESPN do some broadcasting from there at some point.

Once American Dream is completed, New jersey will have a another destination that many will flock to for vacations.  We have Atlantic City, the Jersey shore, and now American Dream.  Being close to NYC, it creates a good destination for those wanting to visit both.  It also provide the Jets and Giants an opportunity to keep fans close for an entire weekend.  But how will it benefit them financially?  We can only wait and see.  Right now, Triple Five & New jersey seem to be the only one set to profit.

 

New York Giants Antrel Rolle Interview

A few weeks back John Fennelly of ProFootballNYC, Dr. Bill Chackes of FootballReportersOnline, and myself made our way to the Gotham Comedy Club in NYC to interview New York Giants Safety Antrel Rolle.  Antrel was taking a part in 12 Angry Mascots, Gotham’s sports related comedy troupe.  This interview was conducted the night after they faced Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles on November 21st.

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Jery Seinfeld makes surprise appearance

Antrel answered questions ranged from his time at The U to the Giants to his time in Arizona.  It was a fun interview and you can tell Antrel likes his time in New York and enjoys what he does.  We were told there was going to be a special gust on stage that night, but we were not told who.  It did get leaked who it was and we were lucky to catch a few minutes on stage of Jerry Seinfeld.  The 12 Angry Mascots footage did not come out too well due to audio issues.

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Do PSL’s Really Make Football Better? Or Worse For Fans

Since August of 2008, I have been filming a documentary about the New York Jets PSL situation and how the fans have had their ups and downs with it.  Over this past season, many fans have kind of settled into new positions in the new parking structure.  Set up like the hierarchy of rings that used to exist in medieval times.  Where the royalty would be in the middle close to the castle and the further you went out, the lower in class it became.  The higher priced parking passes are closer to the stadium.  Ones with non PSL seats have to park over by the Izod Center.  You tell me what type of message the Jets are sending to their fans.

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Many long time season ticket holders who have had tailgating groups for years feel cheated by not just the new parking system, but from the PSL’s as well.  Many were not able to get seats next to friends like they have in years past.  Those with cheaper PSL’s or NON PSL seats can not sit with those in the lower bowl.  Also, Mary Lou Wilson who parks in the Green parking said some long time friends they tailgated with in old section 13A have the non PL seats do not want to bring all their gear over to the green parking.  Even though Mary Lou and her kids can park over there, they still have friends in the green parking to tailgate with.  Who wants to lug all that gear and waste time just to have to drag it all back early?

Bruce Speight, Senior Director of Media Relations, told me they did what they could to appease fans.  But you can not please them all.  I wonder what true steps they took to find out what the fans wanted.  I know they did send a survey out via e mail two years ago.  But did anyone from the Jets organization act like the Census and go from tailgate to tailgate to get the fans opinions.  Probably not.  They do not mind sending face painters out there to charge for face painting.  Maybe if the team spent time walking through the lots talking to fans and truly got to know what they wanted, sales could have gone faster.

This is something sports writers do not cover, especially sports beat writers.  there is always a focus on the players, coaches, on and off the field events, and even trades.  There are not many sports writers that cover the business decisions teams makes, how it affects the fans, or even the fans in general.  Occasionally, there are stories that appear about fans.  But not too often.  They mainly come about during the season, after a team or player has already made news about an issue.  It may not be front page news, but is it news nonetheless.  If there were no paying fans to show up, it would just be a bunch of guys playing ball.  I guess while filming my documentary I had to take it upon myself to cover them and tell their side so they feel they have a voice.  Fans care about news regarding the teams and their players.  So the teams and players should care about what is going on with their fans.

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Many long time tailgating groups have crumbled and become a shadow of its former self.  I have talked about the Jets Pack a few times, but I have yet to talk about the Jets Nuts.  The Jet Nuts have been coming just as long as the Jets Pack.  You can always tell where the Jet Nuts are by their huge bus they always have.  They are on their fourth bus right now.  They have had hundreds over the years.  But according to the organizers, it has dwindled down significantly.  It is coming to a point where they are laying out more money than they are receiving from fans wanting to share in their tailgate.  Many tailgate set ups charge a small fee to eat and drink at their tailgate.  Rather than shrink it down they just might call it quits by years end.  PSL’s have not just separated fans in the stadium, but even in tailgating as well.

PSL’s, for some, are a necessary evil.  The Jets and Giants never said what other financing options they looked into before settling on the PSL’s as a final option.  If the New England Patriots can do it then any team can.  Even though their stadium is in the middle of nowhere, small screen, no escalators, they still managed to do it all without PSL’s.  Sometimes I wonder if the new stadium was built for the fans or for the teams owners friends to enjoy a lavish place to watch football games and network for more business.  Make it their own upscale country club.  The Jets and Giants had no idea how much they tore their fan base apart.

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Sports teams need to wake up and realize that bigger and better is not necessarily the way to go.  There has to be a happy medium.  The Jets have already doe this and is evident every time I film in the parking lot.  I am here for the fans to be their voice.  Hoping to show other sports franchises what PSL’s can to do their own fan base.  I know some fans do not care, they are willing to spend their money and do what the team says to do to keep going to games.  Others have the kind of disposable income where they can afford to spend and do not care about what other fans think.  It is this kind of thinking that shows team owners win and can do what they want.

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The fans have the real power.  If the fans were all on the same page then the teams would have to change how they set their prices and policies.  The Jets learned this already with the PSL’s and lowered prices.  If the fans kept showing that solidarity, then we all win in the end.  Not just the ones with deep pockets.   Some will agree, others will disagree.  But we all want to enjoy our game day experience with our friends and have that bond for years.  Not to lose it because some friends who used to be able to afford tickets now can not.  Makes me proud to be a reporter of the fans.  Not just because I care, but because I am one of the ones who could not afford to keep my tickets.  The fans are a story and I am the only one who sees it.

Interview With New York Giants WR Steve Smith

steve smith slideshow

Last night I had the pleasure of interviewing New York Giants Wide Receiver Steve Smith.  I know i am a Jets fan but I am not going to pass up the opportunity to interview any professional football player.  He was making an appearance at Macy’s at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ for Perry Ellis.  After selecting which Perry Ellis button down shirt he was going to wear he headed out to the floor to sign autographs for the awaiting fans.  Young and mature fans alike all stepped up and had pictures, hats, balls, jerseys, and more signed by the Pro Bowl & Super Bowl winning Wide Receiver.

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