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Time to Include Fans in NFL Labor Talks

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Sports Fans Coalition sends letter to NFL, NFLPA asking to be included in negotiations:  Washington, DC - Today, the Sports Fans Coalition publicly released a letter sent Tuesday evening from executive director Brian Frederick and board chair David Goodfriend to the heads of the NFL and NFL Players Association formally requesting that representatives of sports fans be present at future collective bargaining negotiations until such time as a deal is reached. It marks the first time in modern sports that a national organization of fans has asked to be involved in the resolution of a labor dispute.

"Why shouldn't fans be represented in the negotiation session?" National Sports Fans Coalition executive director Brian Frederick asked. He added, "Fans, taxpayers and cities have too much at stake to just sit by and let negotiations continue to go nowhere. Are owners and players willing to say fans shouldn't be allowed in the room when they divvy up the money we've given them?"

In the letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, Frederick and Sports Fans Coalition chair David Goodfriend wrote in part:

We are not asking for a seat at the negotiating table -- although we believe fans deserve one -- but merely to be present in the room so that we may inform fans across the country about the state of ongoing negotiations and ensure that progress is being made towards an agreement that ensures a central consideration of fans.

The pair also pointed to the amount of money fans and taxpayers have spent on NFL stadiums -- at least $6.5 billion in the last 20 years -- and the exemption that the NFL receives from the public from antitrust statutes with respect to negotiating broadcasting rights.

"Allowing sports fans to have representatives in the room is the least that owners and players can do," Frederick said. "By asking the public to spend more than $6.5 billion on NFL stadiums, they have already asked us to be a part of their moneymaking machine. We deserve to know that our interests are being considered."

The full text of Frederick and Goodfriend's letter can be found below or online here (PDF):
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/sports/goodellsmithletter.pdf

Dear Mr. Goodell and Mr. Smith,

On behalf of NFL fans everywhere, we are requesting that the leadership of Sports Fans Coalition be present for future negotiating sessions between the NFL and the NFL Players Association until such time as a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.

We are not asking for a seat at the negotiating table -- although we believe fans deserve one -- but merely to be present in the room so that we may inform fans across the country about the state of ongoing negotiations and ensure that progress is being made towards an agreement that ensures a central consideration of fans.

As fans and taxpayers, we have invested over $6.5 billion around the country on NFL stadiums, in addition to the billions we have spent on tickets and NFL merchandise. We have transformed our urban centers with the promise that new stadiums would serve as an economic boon to the surrounding community. A work stoppage would be devastating to many cities, including local workers and businesses.

The NFL and other professional sports leagues also enjoy an exemption from federal antitrust statutes with respect to negotiating broadcast rights, which has enabled the owners and players to make significant revenues.

If the NFL and NFLPA cannot come to an agreement and a devastating work stoppage is the result, the public has a right to know why.

Hopefully, both sides can come to an agreement in the immediate future and this great American sport can continue to bring happiness to the many fans, families, and communities that enjoy professional football. Until then, the fans deserve to know that someone in the negotiation process is looking out for their best interests.

We will contact your offices to follow up on this request.

Sincerely,

Brian Frederick
Executive Director
Sports Fans Coalition
SportsFans.org

David Goodfriend
Chair
Sports Fans Coalition
SportsFans.org


BACKGROUND:

Sports Fans Coalition (http://SportsFans.org/) is the nonprofit organization established in 2009 that is fighting to give fans a voice on issues like media blackouts, high ticket prices, stadium construction and college football playoffs. In January, they launched Save Next Season (http://SaveNextSeason.com/), a campaign featuring a petition signed by thousands of fans calling on the NFL and NFLPA to guarantee there will be a 2011 season.