Looming NFL Lockout Would Sack Small Business Earnings

Michael Essany Headshot by Michael Essany on February 25, 2011
iStock_000009138593XSmall.jpg

Last year, the NFL was responsible for generating a staggering $9 billion in revenue — a stellar fiscal performance for a league that capped its memorable season with Super Bowl XLV becoming the most-watched television event in human history. The NFL’s unprecedented success, naturally, also delivered a potent boon to American small businesses capable of piggybacking on the league’s surging popularity.

But just as a rising tide lifts all boats, a sinking ship spares few casualties. And the NFL is on the verge of allowing next season to sink beneath a deluge of infighting between league owners and the NFL Players Association. As both sides argue over — you guessed it — money, the prospect of an NFL lockout looms large, possibly commencing as early as March 4.

Fourth Down for Small Businesses

An NFL lockout would, undoubtedly, negatively impact the sport of football and its monstrous fan base in the same detrimental way baseball was forever tainted by the infamous 1994-95 Major League Baseball strike.

But an NFL shutdown would also result in serious harm to no shortage of innocent bystanders, particularly the small business community at large.

Ask any local sports bar owner how important professional sports programming is to the success of their establishment and you’re bound to hear how the “big game” routinely translates into “big business” even for the smallest of small smoky bars and TV-equipped dining facilities. Without question, the cancellation of the NFL season would result in an astronomical loss of revenue for America’s small businesses, even those that simply capitalize on the NFL’s popularity in their marketing efforts to a small degree.

Another Costly Setback

Well aware of how good food, good company, and a good game are great for business is Pete Tumbas, a locally prominent certified public accountant (Tumbas CPA) and the owner of Valparaiso, Indiana-based Pass Times pub and grill. On any given night during the NFL season, the flatscreen televisions adorning the walls of Pete’s popular establishment beam the gridiron goings-on to a packed house of loyal patrons.

“Small, locally owned restaurants and bars have been through a very turbulent period,” Tumbas says, referring to the 2008 economic collapse that sent the global economy into a tailspin and quickly dried up much of the cash most consumers would likely have spent in their community. “The loss of NFL programming,” Tumbas warns, “will be another very costly setback for a large number of small businesses.”

“A canceled NFL season could mean zero profits,” adds business owner Michael Sinensky, who owns four bars named Village Pourhouse in the New York Tri-State area. In a biting and deeply personal commentary shared with The Huffington Post, Sinensky uses his own bottom line data to make a sobering argument. “My total revenue for the year is approximately $3.5 million,” he reveals. “$300,000 of this revenue — or 8 percent of my total revenue — was generated by these 21 NFL football Sundays. Last year my profit was this amount. So there you go: My profit will be largely wiped out if an NFL lockout occurs.”

Advertisement