CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23: The exterior of Soldier Field before the NFC Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Though the focus of the NFL labor talks is on the players and owners, the truth is, a lockout and the loss of even one game could be economically painful for people who don't get paid by the NFL. Three mayors from NFL cities joined forces to send that message to Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner.
“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,” Tomas Regalado, mayor of Miami, wrote.
The mayors of Houston and Minneapolis added their support to this letter that didn't take sides in the labor dispute, but urged both the players and owners to come to an agreement as soon as possible. Though Mayor Daley didn't take part in the letter, the financial domino effect on a lockout could make a big impact on Chicago.
Consider how many people you interact with when going to a Bears game. If you drive, you'll pay for parking. Next, your ticket will be scanned as you walk in the gate. An usher will show you the location of your seat. A concessions worker will sell you a hot dog, and a beer vendor will make sure that your next drink is in hand. If you have too many beers, security guards will throw you out if you get rowdy. If you want to buy any Bears gear, staff are available to sell you as many foam paws as your heart desires. As you walk out of the stadium, you notice a clean-up crew who patiently waits for you to leave, so that they can pick up the beer cup you threw on the floor.
If you watch the game at a bar or at home, you're still relying on a host of people to make that experience possible. Bartenders and waiters pull extra shifts during football season, bringing you unlimited wings and beer. The pizza delivery guy loves football gamedays, and grocery stores run specials around football weekends.
Beyond the ever-important food, the networks who air games employ people as camera operators, directors, technicians, graphic designers, writers and researchers, and they all stay at local hotels and eat in local restaurants.
Even before the first game, the city of Bourbonnais could suffer if the Bears don't hold their training camp at Olivet Nazarene, as they've done since 2002. Restaurants, hotels and makeshift merchandise stands enjoy business from the scads of Bears fans who make their way down I-57 for training camp.
The financial issues between the NFL owners and players are complex and difficult to sort out, but they need to keep their nose to the grindstone and work it out. If they don't, they won't be the only ones whose bank accounts will be thin come September.