Lawmakers from Indiana, home of next season's Super Bowl, are urging the NFL and players union to avoid a work stoppage that would have a "devastating impact" on the state's economy.
"We are especially troubled that a failure to complete a new agreement could lead to a work stoppage affecting the upcoming 2011 NFL season and Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis," wrote Indiana GOP Sens. Dan Coats and Richard Lugar, along with all nine House members from the state, in a letter Thursday to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and union head DeMaurice Smith.
The congressional delegation cited a 2008 study by Ball State University in Muncie that estimated bringing a Super Bowl to Indianapolis would provide a $365 million boost to the metro area, in hotel, restaurant and other activities.
"As our state continues to recover from the recent economic crisis, it is critically important that the 2011 NFL season proceed unimpeded," the delegation said. "...We urge you to work together to resolve these issues and prevent what would be a devastating impact on fans nationwide and particularly the Hoosier businesses and communities relying on the upcoming season."
The NFL said in a statement that "we are working very hard to reach an agreement as soon as possible." The players union declined to comment on the letter.
The league's collective bargaining agreement with the players expires at the end of next Thursday. The union has said it expects a lockout to come as soon as the following day.
If that happens, others in Congress are likely to weigh in, especially if it looks like next season is in trouble. Key committees could hold hearings and lawmakers could threaten legislation to try to force the two sides to reach a settlement.
The Indiana letter comes as the NFL and the players' union resumed talks with a federal mediator for the seventh day in a row. The biggest issue separating the sides is how to divide about $9 billion in annual revenues.