Ballard encouraged by NFL labor negotiations

Associated Press
February 27, 2011
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Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard doesn't buy the conventional wisdom.

He believes NFL owners and players are making progress on a new collective bargaining agreement and that next year's Super Bowl will still be played at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"I like the fact they got the mediator in there, and they're meeting seriously," Ballard said during this weekend's annual scouting combine. "I'm sure they're closer than they have been in the past. They're kind of keeping it to themselves right now because they don't want to have any extra pressure on them right now."

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and league officials have not provided updates on negotiations before federal mediator George Cohen. The two sides met for seven consecutive days in Washington before stopping Thursday. Talks are to resume Tuesday, less than 72 hours before the labor deal expires and a lockout could begin.

On Thursday, Cohen said the two sides had made "some progress" but "very strong differences remain."

Later that day, league officials updated the head coaches and general managers and provided a list of possible scenarios. On Friday, Smith spent nearly two hours meeting with agents, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and league counsel Jeff Pash met with the owners' labor committee at the Colts' complex.

Ballard, like most everyone else, has no inside information. But he surely has a rooting interest. Some estimates say losing the Super Bowl could cost Indy as much as $200 million.

And after years of preparation for the city's first Super Bowl, the last thing Ballard or the host committee wants is a repeat of the 1994 baseball season.

"I can't believe they didn't do a World Series," he said. "We don't want to go down that road. This model works. Everybody makes money in the NFL. So there's no reason not to continue."

Not everyone agrees, which is why labor talks have overshadowed one of the biggest and busiest weeks of the entire offseason. The most recent CBA was signed in 2006, but owners exercised a clause in 2008 that let them opt out.

League owners want a greater percentage of the roughly $9 billion in annual revenue that is shared with the players. Among the other significant issues are a rookie wage scale; the owners' push to expand the regular season from 16 games to 18 while reducing the preseason by two games; and benefits for retired players.

Most expect a lockout to begin Friday, though the NFLPA could decertify before then — a move that could prevent a work stoppage and give players more leverage in negotiations. Two agents told The Associated Press this week they believed it was a foregone conclusion decertification would happen.

"They've made it clear that football will be played at some point this season and we have to be ready to go when we do play," Colts linebacker Gary Brackett said Thursday.

The city does have contingency plans.

When the host committee made its bid, the league asked it to book two weekends for next February's game. That would give NFL officials more flexibility to move the game if there was a work stoppage. And if the league actually canceled the Super Bowl, which has never happened, the host committee said it has been assured it would be put back in line for another one.

But Brackett hopes that won't be necessary.

"I think both sides are working hard, and I think mediation has helped," he said. "You know, I was one of those guys who wrote a 10-page term paper the night before it was due, so I'm hoping that's the case here, too."


  • That is what I would say too.
    What else is he going to say? I would say that too if I were him. Having said that, there is no pressure on anyone yet. Players are not missing checks...I hope they get something done, but the owners would not have backed out of the CBA if they did not want a different split of the revenue, and DeMaurice can't keep his job if he does not get some kind of a win here. I won't be surprised if it goes till everyone is losing money...that is when the pressure to settle really comes, and the things you were so sure you wanted to fight over start to look less important...there is enough for everyone, but instead of sharing and doing what is good for the game and the fans, greed rules the day for now...it is not one of the seven deadly sins for nothing, and boy, is it on display here.
  • conventional wisdom????

    Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard doesn't buy the conventional wisdom!

    Unions are the problem?

    The historical base for unions has made allot of things! What I so see it has created is the very over uses of nationalism that is the down fall of private family owned companies and the restraint of invention and innovation to create new things from the heart of we the people of united States And the Big problems are the Over uses of Union run Nationalism or Government Backed Contracted companies.
    I am not a Sport fan yet I respectfully so point out the Lucas Oil Stadium, The Play ground of the National foot ball league and the Colts! A few years back I come to understand that the government of Indiana so passed Tax hikes to pay for and sought to maintain the Stadium. These people that make millions as the fans by products made in a overseas market with that nations resources! All on the backs of the smaller companies. That makes No sense! I am very happy to hear the Republicanâ??s standing there ground, Thank God the Voters of Indiana in the last midterm voted for Cap amendment for the State Tax rate! Those tax hikes should be changed! Be that the ones passed to pay for the Stadium. The Colts and the NFL could have paid for the stadium our right.


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  1. I never thought I'd see the day when a Republican Mayor would lead the charge in attempting to raise every tax we have to pay. Now it's income taxes and property taxes that Ballard wants to increase. And to pay for a pre-K program? Many studies have shown that pre-K offer no long-term educational benefits whatsoever. And Ballard is pitching it as a way of fighting crime? Who is he kidding? It's about government provided day care. It's a shame that we elected a Republican who has turned out to be a huge big spending, big taxing, big borrowing liberal Democrat.

  2. Why do we blame the unions? They did not create the 11 different school districts that are the root of the problem.

  3. I was just watching an AOW race from cleveland in 1997...in addition to the 65K for the race, there were more people in boats watching that race from the lake than were IndyCar fans watching the 2014 IndyCar season finale in the Fontana grandstands. Just sayin...That's some resurgence modern IndyCar has going. Almost profitable, nobody in the grandstands and TV ratings dropping 61% at some tracks in the series. Business model..."CRAZY" as said by a NASCAR track general manager. Yup, this thing is purring like a cat! Sponsors...send them your cash, pronto!!! LOL, not a chance.

  4. I'm sure Indiana is paradise for the wealthy and affluent, but what about the rest of us? Over the last 40 years, conservatives and the business elite have run this country (and state)into the ground. The pendulum will swing back as more moderate voters get tired of Reaganomics and regressive social policies. Add to that the wave of minority voters coming up in the next 10 to 15 years and things will get better. unfortunately we have to suffer through 10 more years of gerrymandered districts and dispropionate representation.

  5. Funny thing....rich people telling poor people how bad the other rich people are wanting to cut benefits/school etc and that they should vote for those rich people that just did it. Just saying..............