Professor Weighs in on Football Fallout
March 18, 2011
With the threat of an NFL lockout looking more and more like a reality next season, we asked Economics Professor Akira Motomura, who is an expert in field of sports economics, what economic implications a cancelled 2011 football season would have.
For one, he does not believe a cancelled season will have a big economic impact on fans.
"People will feel a little empty at first on Sunday afternoons, but they'll find something else to do and other places to spend money. Maybe they'll watch more college football or baseball."
He also notes that although the NFL's $9 billion per year revenue "may seem big to some, it's tiny compared to the overall US output of $15 trillion."
Motomura says it is restaurants, bars and souvenir shops near stadiums that could suffer the brunt of a lockout.
"The businesses that depend on football traffic will definitely be hurt as spending could easily shift to other locations," he says.
A prime example is Patriot Place, the new 1.3 million square foot shopping and dining complex adjacent to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. Recently, an article published in the Sun Chronicle took a deeper look at the economic impact a lockout would have on businesses near Gillette.
It is estimated that the Patriots directly and indirectly generate nearly 2,500 jobs, $11 million in revenue for local businesses, and more than $10 million in income tax revenue for Massachusetts.
Another area for concern Motomura says could be new nighttime series on the major networks.
"The shows won't get the big promotional push that those networks give on NFL telecasts," he says.
In his long-term analysis for the NFL, Motomura cites the fact fans have come back after previous work stoppages. The 2004-05 NHL season was cancelled after an unresolved lockout.
The 1994-95 Major League Baseball strike was the eighth work stoppage in baseball history and saw the first cancellation of the World Series since 1904. Attendance at games plummeted as did television ratings once the strike was over but, over the course of a few years, the MLB rebounded.
Motomura says one possible difference this time is that "there's lately been an upsurge in women watching football, especially Sunday Night Football. They may react more negatively to a work stoppage."
An additional risk factor this time around could be the increased concern over brain injuries suffered by players.
"As stories continue to come out about the brain damage football players suffer, people might get turned off if they don't get the enjoyment of watching games to override that information."
Motomura has taught at Stonehill since 1995. He has published research on the economic history of 17th century Spain. He has also written essays about economic history textbooks and on teaching Asian American students.
His research interests include the efficiency of player markets in the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball.
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