The National Football League has been spending time in court lately. Although we’re not talking about bankruptcy court, the issue has to do with debt – a whopping nine billion dollar debt. I learned from a recent Indianapolis Business Journal article that this debt amount is three times higher than the Major League Baseball debt, and double that of the National Basketball Association.
The NFL is being taken to court by the NFL Players Association, which is filing a complaint against the team owners about the league’s debt reduction plan. The NFL wants to put a cap on how much debt a team can have and still be part of the league. The player’ union claims that the cap restricts athletes’ pay.
As a bankruptcy attorney in Indiana who deals with businesses’ and individuals’ debt every working day, even I was shocked to read the sheer size of the NFL debt. Where does it all come from? Well, I learned, a major portion comes from big stadium projects such as the stadiums for the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants, and now the Lucas Oil Stadium right here in Indianapolis. Our own Colts team, for example, is contributing $52 million towards building the new stadium. Meanwhile, salaries demanded by team players keep escalating because of competition.
One commentator explained that the Colts team has more than enough revenue to cover its own debt. The concern is that big cities like New York and Dallas will make salaries so high as to become unaffordable along with the debt obligation.
This squeeze of rising costs and big debt is a combination with which I am all too familiar. Every week, I talk with tens of clients who are experiencing just such a financial squeeze. As prices for everyday necessities rise, (gasoline and food are two necessities that have been rising sharply in price), even without any catastrophic event such as a layoff or expensive illness, and even with responsible handling of finances, it becomes very difficult to manage regular debt payments. That “squeeze” is the subject of all the conversations I have with the people who visit one of my four bankruptcy offices around the state of Indiana, and that’s why it’s so important for me to help them work out the best plan of action.