Amid reports that the players and owners actually met yesterday in Chicago, I thought we should examine some of the key points of these negotiations. The 18 game schedule.
Commissioner Goodell has repeatedly stated throughout the past months that it is the fans that want the 18 game schedule, and that’s why he is pushing so hard for it to become reality. This is partially true. Season ticket holding fans have for years complained that paying the same price for pre-season games, and parking, as regular season games is insane. Years ago, in the 80′s, Giants tickets were only about $20-$30 a seat, and parking was collected at the gate. Paying for the extra two pre-season games was never an issue. They would get used occasionally, but it really was not a big concern for fans to spend the extra $50. Todays tickets however are much more expensive and a parking pass is required. I personally pay $240 for two pre-season games per ticket, and an extra $50 for parking. Others in the stadium are charged up to $1400 per seat for the two games. This has become a legitimate beef for the patrons. These are the fans that club owners and the Commissioner hear from, and need to address. Unfortunately, instead of simply changing the pricing for those games, they have decided it is something they can use to increase revenue, killing two birds with one stone. The League will go to 18 games eventually when the following issues are resolved.
1) New “disabled lists” will need to be created. You will no longer have to choose to put a player on injured reserve and lose him for the season. Teams will need to have choices to lose players for 4 games, or 8 games, thus freeing the roster spot for another player.
2) Rosters need to expand. This needs to happen anyway in todays game of specialization. Tom Coughlin always states how hard it is to practice with full squads when you have guys resting small injuries, while roster spots are counted for kickers, punters, long snappers, etc. They should expand the practice rosters by 10 players or so, allowing teams to rest injured players properly, and still have ample replacements to choose from.
3)The Players and the Players Union repeatedly state that this expansion will never happen. This will change soon. This will be a bargaining chip used down the road. How can a Union fight more jobs for players? The expanded season will also add to the revenue stream, thus adding to the amount of money in the overall pool. Neither of these two issues is a bad thing for players.
The benefit for fans who are not season ticket holders? A season that starts Labor day weekend and ends on Presidents day weekend. Super Bowl weekend is the largest money making weekend in America, and the day after is the most missed day of work. Having a built-in three day weekend for the Super Bowl is a no brainer!
I believe the 18 game schedule will eventually be a reality and will benefit everyone. It will be accompanied by better health and retirement benefits for Players, expanded rosters, disability lists, and two more Network games with filled stadiums for Owners. The fans will continue to foot the bill as always, but at least we won’t feel like we are throwing our money away.
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