Relationships form quickly between NFL teams and their communities: sponsorships, partnerships, and other aspects that tie in these mammoth franchises to the success of their cities. The opposite also applies, and in the case of the New Orleans Saints specifically, they are due to lose hundreds of millions of dollars caused by economic fallout of the corona virus. Like so many sports franchises across the United States, the Saints are caught in a web of monetary issues due to a lack of consumers. The pandemic has impacted millions of people across the US and may continue on to have one of the greatest financial implications the likes of which the country has not seen since the 1930’s.
Sports play a huge part in the lives of the people of Louisiana. Football aside, it’s always a great feeling to know that you, in a stadium of roughly 75,000 people in the heart of New Orleans, are there united in a common purpose, to support and develop a community around the New Orleans Saints. The relationships built, partnerships made, and the identities built around a franchise are astounding. The Louisiana Superdome, emblazoned with its Mercedes-Benz three-pronged star at the tip of its dome, lights up as fans shuffle in, the roar of the crowd washes over all three tiers of seats as athletes beyond measure compete. We see the scoreboards and neon display panels illuminated with the logos of local community sponsors that are supported by the loving sports fans of New Orleans.
In the age of COVID-19, an infectious disease that has people staying home in fear for their very lives, NFL teams everywhere are seeing impacts en masse, but none more so than the New Orleans Saints. New Orleans begins and ends as a worldwide spectacle for tourism. With its rich cultural history, Mardi Gras, its unique geography, and its hyper local cuisine, New Orleans is a hot spot for travel all year around. With the onset of COVID-19, the tourism industry has come to a grinding halt. With that, local businesses who are supporters of the New Orleans Saints are missing out on those visitors’ dollars, not to mention that with the stadium going dark, New Orleans itself just isn’t as appealing for a very large demographic. Even with the prospect of closed-door games resuming it will become a vicious cycle of economic loss for the city, and for its football team.
The prospect of closed door games also represents a huge financial loss for the Saints, but with limited options it looks to be the only path to move forward. The team looks to lose $161 million on direct stadium revenue alone, and through the loss of sponsorships and other factors are facing an additional $441 million loss in total revenue. Mayor LaToya Cantrell is supportive of fan-free games in the interest of public health. Although she has pushed for less large-scale events until the year 2021, she did leave NFL games to the league’s discretion.
The NFL also likely faces a drop in the salary caps due to financial losses across the board for all their franchises. The team has been working with salary expert Khai Hartley, who has long since been helping the front office navigate the salary caps within the NFL. Before the economic impact of the corona virus was made clear, the Saints were easily poised to function well within the salary caps, and they have done well to maximize their resources to work within the league’s requirements. Due to the extreme losses of New Orleans during this time, the Saints are faced with a salary cap decrease, which long-term will make it exceedingly difficult to retain their best players. Depending on the overall outcome of the fiscal fallout, the Saints may not see a jump in that cap for years to come, which could further impact the success of not only their team but their part in the tourism industry.
New Orleans is a booming town that is facing huge losses. It will impact not only its local industry for a long time coming, but we are only seeing the beginning for what is to come for the Saints themselves. The community and the team walk hand-in-hand, both serving each other’s best interests. For now, all everyone can do is continue to slowly start the wheels of New Orleans industry, hoping for a greater financial future.