The Glazer family and the looming lockout
The NFL is embroiled in an ongoing fight over the particulars of the next collective bargaining agreement. With little to no recent progress, the assumption is that this will ultimately lead to a lockout of the players by the league's owners.
When it comes to the Glazer family, which owns the Buccaneers, it might be interesting to consider how a protracted lockout -- if it comes to that -- would impact them.
The impact of a lockout that results in games (and revenue) being lost is different for each team. It's determined by the financial commitments of the club and its ability to address them without its normal cash flow. In a lockout, the Bucs obviously wouldn't be responsible for their payroll, which was the lowest in the NFL this season anyhow. But what makes their situation more sustainable than some other owners is the lack of stadium costs. Whereas the Cowboys, Jets, Giants and other clubs have invested heavily in recently-built stadiums -- and others are attempting to line up funds to build stadiums -- the Bucs have state-of-the-art Raymond James Stadium, a facility built courtesy of tax dollars in the mid-90s.
Teams that have stadium debts will be required to make those payments even in the absence of football. The Glazers have no such issues that we're aware of. Here's something else to remember: the Glazers make significant profits from events held at Raymond James Stadium, particularly USF football games. Those are profits that will roll in lockout or no lockout. Yes, the Bucs did spend roughly $30 million to build the new One Buc Place a few years ago, but those costs pale in comparison to billion-dollar stadiums.
Something you might hear about in the near future is the debate over the NFL's annual television revenue of more than $4 billion, which the networks are contractually obligated to pay this season. The union is contesting the arrangement based on previous antitrust rulings, and will likely ask that the money be put into escrow (and later shared with the players) if they win the case. But, if the union is unsuccessful, that money would be divvied up between teams, leaving a team like the Bucs in superb shape during a lockout.
The truth is, I haven't seen the Glazers' books and I'm not expecting that to change in the near future. But we can surmise some things based on what we know of their situation.
And, from the outside looking in, if a lockout canceled the season -- or even a portion of it -- it could signal the continuation of a very profitable period for the Bucs ownership. Remember, we are wrapping up an uncapped season in the NFL in which there was no minimum or maximum payroll, and the Bucs' low salary commitment probably allowed them to pocket substantial money. Couple that with the potential for a lockout that leaves owners with $4 billion-plus to play with, and the Glazers would hardly be hurting for cash, even if there's no football.
How does that fact impact some owners' approach to the labor negotiations? Well, that's probably a conversation for another day.