That’s the rumor — a rumor that would not have had much credibility until the players went nuclear and decertified their union.
We’re hearing initial rumblings pointing to the possibility that a loss by the league at the appellate level will prompt the owners to completely shut down all business operations until the players agree to a new labor deal. The thinking is that, if the owners cease all operations, the NFL would not be violating the court order because there would be no lockout. Instead, the league essentially would be going out of business — something for which the NFL repeatedly chided the union in the weeks and months preceding decertification of the NFLPA.
Unlike the players, many owners have legal relationships with their host cities in how their stadiums are funded. Cowboys Stadium, for instance, cost the city of Arlington $325 million and several local taxes went up to pay the city’s share of the overall $1.5 billion cost. The LA Rams moved to St. Louis in part because the city ponied up millions to build them a new stadium. The Houston Texans got hundreds of millions in public funding for Reliant Stadium. And so forth and so on. If the NFL shuts down, how are these owner-city relationships disentangled? What happens to the finances of the cities that took the risk to finance stadiums, expecting an unending stream of pro football related revenue in return?
Follow-up question: Is the NFL a bubble in the process of bursting?