NFL Achieves Record Revenues

Clay Matthews
The Associated Press

The Green Bay Packers, the only publicly-held team in the NFL, reported league revenue-sharing income of $226.4 million last year.

Because every team gets an equal slice of the non-local money pie, the NFL grabbed $7.2 billion in sharable income last year. That total dwarfs the $6 billion the league took in last season and the $3 billion it generated just five years ago.

But the “national” money merely tells one part of the revenue picture. The league’s total haul likely approaches $12 billion.

In addition to the $226.4 million each team received, the franchises generated local income that they do not share with other clubs. The Packers received $149.3 in local money. Since privately held franchises generally do not publicize their local revenues, calculating their hauls in this area remains difficult. Green Bay, on the one hand, serves as a the smallest media market in the NFL. On the other hand, the team’s success has inspired an intense following in Green Bay and beyond. So, whether $149.3 remains typical or atypical largely stems from guesswork.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has set a goal for the next decade of $25 billion in revenue for the NFL. The allegiance of owners toward him in spite of public-relations disasters, such as the Ray Rice fiasco or Deflategate, stems in large part because his stewardship of the league coincides with record revenues. Even when he doesn’t make sense, Roger Goodell makes dollars.

Player salaries, stadium upkeep, and other costs eat away at a sizable chunk of that revenue. But only a truly horrible businessman could start with $226.4 million in revenue (2014) and a salary cap of $143.3 million (2015) and not make money.

The Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers, and St. Louis Rams currently shake down local governments for new stadiums. The publicly-held Packers don’t help their quest for public money.