Posted by David Oates 5 months, 3 weeks ago

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My take - I strongly believe so.

Protectionists of the dominant American Football business entity would disagree and cite the 2016 Forbes report that claims the average team value in the league reached an all-time high of $2.34 billion. I’ll concede on that stat but suspect that the NFL’s worth will plateau or, quite possibly, wane over the new few years.

Moreover, the league can only blame themselves for this trend. With a feverish bent on driving more profits for its rich, exclusive owners club, the NFL continues to play an expensive game of “Musical Cities” by uprooting profitable, well-loved teams from St. Louis, San Diego and now Oakland for towns that are willing to pony up precious money to help develop new stadiums. Not only does this draw the anger of existing, loyal fan bases who will be hard pressed to continue the same level of support for the team, but it places significant pressure on these franchises to quickly prove their value to a new audience; one that in large part will wait to jump onto the bandwagon until they how the teams produce on the field. No matter how shiny the new venue might be, building and sustaining a die-hard following will not happen simply by measuring the size of one’s jumbotron.

I surmise that we will see a flattening of the league’s growth in the early 2020’s when its television contracts come up for renewal. Roger Goodell and the league owners’ decision to disregard its fans will continue to erode ratings that are already down 8 percent. While the NFL will build up its on-demand, live streaming services, the income it will generate from this initiative will not offset their existing revenue. Teams will start to experience a greater percentage of “fair weather fans” and losing teams will feel a definite strain on their bottom line.

No doubt we’ll see some exceptions to this rule. Green Bay, Buffalo, Chicago and Kansas City bear extremely loyal, multi-generational fan bases thanks to owners that value their team's foundational role in their communities. If only the rest fo them possessed this core value. The 31-1 vote allowing the Raiders to move to Sin City indicates that few other NFL decision makers do.

Down the road, I feel St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland may come around to thanking the football gods for the departure of their beloved teams. If my predictions are correct, these three towns divested themselves of the NFL at its zenith and garnered the maximum benefit possible from their presence. Historians will look back on this time as when the league’s brand began a slow and steady decline.

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