Those risks also are the main reason few people envision the 18-game regular season being in place anytime soon, even though there are provisions in the CBA to reopen discussions on it before 2017. Smith and the players are adamant it won’t happen, although the broadcast partners would be eager for more NFL programming.
“The 18 games argument, the only reason to do it is increased revenue,” Smith said. “What is the wear and tear on the player? Will the increased work decrease their career length?”
Instead of lengthening the regular season and cutting the four-game preseason in half, Rooney, one of the NFL’s most powerful owners, sees bigger playoffs. He doesn’t necessarily support it, but recognizes there is a demand for it from the fans and the networks.
“It seems other sports have more teams percentagewise in the playoffs,” Rooney said. “It would be my guess that will happen by 2017.”
One proposal to make the cost of attending the games more fair – and affordable – for the average fan is dynamic ticket pricing. There’s always the fear of limiting who can afford to attend games, particularly with so many teams requiring personal seat licenses, something that is not going away by 2017.
So clubs could have varying prices for each opponent, with a division game getting top dollar, but a less-attractive matchup costing less.
“I think we’ll see better price value in tickets and parking and concessions,” the NFL’s Grubman said. “It might not necessarily mean reducing prices for tickets; there is no silver bullet. But clubs are finding a different desirability for different things. There is a ticket price for every fan.
“Teams realize a ticket in one part of the stadium has different value than in another part. They are doing a lot of work on what their fan base is, so instead of pricing to the average fan, they will price to every fan.”
Except for the Super Bowl, where tickets cost between $800 and $1,200 last February in Indianapolis. Top price could nearly double in five years considering that in 2007, it was $700.
In 2017, the lucky folks attending the big game might also be sitting outdoors in a cold-weather city. If the 2014 Super Bowl is a big success in the New Jersey Meadowlands, the line of bidders, led by Washington and Chicago, might stretch from, well, FedEx Field to Soldier Field.
“I tracked it a long time ago and found that many of our best-rated games are snow games,” said Allen, whose Redskins would be the favorite for another outdoor title game in the cold.
“I think for everyone, we are not afraid of playing football outside. It will work.”