As you settle down for the final game of the football season, players and owners are trying to determine whether or not there will even be a next season.
The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement expires next month. If the two sides can't agree on a new one, there could be a lockout. That could lead to games, or even the entire season being canceled.
The players association says if owners cancel the season, the city of Baltimore could be looking at a loss of about $160-million in revenue.
The brunt of that would be borne by small business owners like Sam Johnson. Two years ago Johnson was looking for a new location for a liquor store. He thought he'd found the perfect spot -- his purple-colored 'Three Corners' store is just a few blocks from M & T Bank Stadium.
‘When the games are going on all those parking lots out here are full of people and there's like 20,000 people walking around in this neighborhood,’ he said.
Most days aren’t like that, at the southern end of the city’s Pigtown neighborhood.
But Johnson says on a Sunday with a Ravens' home game, his store can make ten times as much as it makes on a normal day. ‘If there's no football game around here I have a customer every hour or so. But when there's football games I mean my store's packed from the time I open until it's closed,’ he said.
The threat of a lockout grows as each day goes by without an agreement. The NFL’s owners and players are struggling to divide up $9-billion in annual revenue. ‘We need to have intensive, round the clock negotiations to address the issues and find solutions,’ said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at a news conference in Dallas.
The current collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners expires on March 3rd. The players have accused owners of preparing for a lockout, in case there's no agreement. The commissioner said that may be happening -- but it shouldn't keep the two sides from talking. ‘They are prepared for every outcome as they should be,’ he said. ‘That's only sound negotiations as I assume the union is doing the same. But we have to focus on making sure we get an agreement that works for everybody.’
Sam Johnson says without football -- he'll be out of business. ‘I'm hoping they work it out. I'm hoping they come up with an agreement so we can get football back on,’ he said.
The NFL commissioner is scheduled to meet with officials from the players union on Saturday, and then again at least two more times next week.
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