Fan perspective: Effects of a possible NFL lockout on Kansas City

In a recent article from Bloomberg, several of the cities which host NFL teams are nervous. Many stadiums have been subsidized by taxpayer dollars, the tune of $7 billion across the league's 32 teams. Reasons for the influx of public money is to keep jobs and revenue streams flowing to cities which benefit from sales taxes and game day activities.

Kansas City is no different. A two paragraph letter from Mayor Mark Funkhouser pleaded with Chiefs owner Clark Hunt to encourage other owners not to impose a lockout of players starting March 4.

The Chiefs at home against the Saints in 2008.
Wikimedia Commons

"It is clear that the vast popularity and financial success of football means that a lock out cannot be in the interest of anybody involved, particularly the fans, workers or businesses who support the game…. I call on the owners to announce to the fans that they will not lock out the players. The players have already pledged not to strike."

Funkhouser voiced the concern of NFL cities beyond just being able to cheer their favorite teams every Sunday. Some cities see an estimated $100 million worth of economic activity surrounding the teams. Beyond ticket sales there are merchandise purchases, hotel stays, restaurant gatherings, sports bars and everyone employed by that economic activity that benefit from NFL games.

Just like big banks and American automobile manufacturers during the recent recession, the NFL is too big to fail. Forget about television advertising for a moment. What happens when no one inhabits restaurants near Arrowhead before and after the game? Sports bars will be in hibernation as no one shows up on Sunday afternoon to watch. Jobs associated with games will be non-existent.

There's more at stake than just the players. In times when cities are facing budget crunches and are cutting back services, faltering sales taxes thanks to an NFL lockout will only make matters worse. It's an unfortunate sign of the times that critical business activity revolves around sales. Sales of tickets, jerseys, beer and midway food all depend upon people enjoying themselves.

Football days for restaurants and bars are like their Black Friday for retailers. They'll still be there, but perhaps they will make less money should the NFL season be put on hold.

NFL owners want an 18 game season to take advantage of more television revenue and to get one more weekend of ticket sales. Adding a ninth home game means even more economic activity revolving around sports. More games would be welcome by Chiefs fans. Plus it makes the NFL playoff picture a little clearer at the end of the season. If the season ever gets here.

In a city without an NHL or NBA franchise, having the Chiefs is like getting ready for Christmas in Kansas City—they are just that important. As much as we want to rely on the always-bad Kansas City Royals for passionate sports fans, their drought in Major League Baseball has been just as bad as the Chiefs. Sporting Kansas City will be a welcome respite in their new soccer stadium, but they only seat 18,500 as opposed to 70,000 at Arrowhead.

A year without the Chiefs, especially after winning the AFC West, will be like a year without sunshine. Hopefully the owners and players can resolve their differences quickly before training camp gets delayed.

Nothing can replace a lost season of football in Kansas City.

William Browning is a fan of Missouri State University athletics after living in the area 15 years. Born in St. Louis, he is a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan and a transplanted KC Chiefs fan. He currently resides in Branson.

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Updated Friday, Feb 25, 2011