Like all successful corporations in the world, the NFL is schedule-driven. Planning is an essential tenet of its business development; solidifying its every move two to three years out is really the norm. The NFL is one of the best in terms of looking down the road when it comes to advertising, and the best next to McDonald’s in marketing its brand. The league boasts great relationships with all of its business partners, and the product it produces has drawn interest from a global audience. It’s a remarkable feat, really, building and sustaining the most-watched product in professional sports entertainment for 24 weeks a year.
Tuesday, however, NFL Communications issued a release about a curious scheduling conflict at Radio City Music Hall. As a result, the 2014 NFL draft will now be held May 8-10 in New York.
This development spurs a number of questions. Was there a bump in the road as far as negotiating the same week by the NFL? Could the two sides not come together on a long-term contractual deal? What was so important on that date that the Radio City Music Hall and the NFL could not come to a mutual agreement for that weekend? The Pirates of Panzan, the Adventures of Tintin, Disney on Ice – what is it?
Why would Radio City Music Hall not want the NFL in that weekend slot? Did the NFL drop the ball (no pun intended) and just figure that Radio City Music Hall would keep that slot open? Is this ultimately over money? Will it compromise a future business relationship?
When a schedule-driven corporation has to move the date of its biggest offseason event, eyebrows are naturally raised. It’s a big deal when the NFL announces that it had to speak with club executives and business partners (i.e., ESPN and its own NFL Network), but the league did a nice job of communicating on this matter in a smooth manner and in a way not to send up red flags to the fans. The NFL, after all, understands one thing: No matter how much ticket prices increase or event dates/locations get altered, the fan base will continue to go to games and, in this case, will still make the yearly draft the most-watched event during the offseason on primetime TV.
I did, in fact, reach out to Radio City Music Hall and spoke with a representative about which shows would be performing the last three weeks of April. I was told that the facility had not assigned any shows for those weeks. Interestingly, I was then instructed to check back in the latter part of 2013 or keep an eye on the venue’s official website.
Clubs were also notified on Wednesday that the NFL had sanctioned regional combines, to be held throughout the country, for Jan. 24-Feb. 16, 2014. The NFL/NIC Combine, which was in talks to move into the month of March at the latest owners’ meetings, will remain in February and stay in Indianapolis. “The Crossroads of America” will continue to host the combine due to its central location for all teams and participants. Nearby hotels are well-equipped to handle the numbers that accompany the NFL’s largest annual convention, too, not to mention Lucas Oil Stadium’s ideal layout.
The league also released dates for the new league year. The free-agency period will begin on March 11, 2014, and the NFL’s annual meeting will be held in Orlando, Fla., from March 23-26.
Some of the content related to dates and scheduling was provided by NFL Communications.
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