In an exclusive interview with SB Nation football writers Thursday afternoon NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is "doing everything we can" to reach a collective bargaining agreement and avoid a disruption of the 2011 season.
"We want the fans to understand that we're doing everything we can to try to reach an agreement that's fair to the players, to the clubs and most importantly to make sure we can continue to deliver high quality football to our fans," Goodell said. "That's our No. 1 priority. We have to get this collective bargaining agreement addressed in a responsible fashion.
"We have made a proposal that we think is responsible, that meets what the players are looking for and what the clubs are looking for and would insure that we could continue on with this great game," Goodell said.
Goodell discussed the season-ticket situation, especially in regard to the New York Giants being the only team not requiring any payment from season ticket-holders during the lockout.
"All of our clubs are reaching out to their fans, they're making sure that they're aware of the circumstances, they understand that in addition to the labor issue that we're still in a period of time where our fans are going through very difficult challenges from an economic standpoint," Goodell said. "Things by no stretch of the imagination have returned to normal, we're all operating under the 'new normal.'
There are challenges in making sure our fans recognize that we're doing everything to resolve this issue and doing everything we can to make our game attractive in the stadium as well as at home, and create as much value as possible for our fans."
Goodell said "we do not have a firm date" when asked if there was an absolute deadline after which regular-season games would have to be cancelled.
"We are planning on a full season, we're preparing for a full season and we certainly hope to be playing a full season," Goodell said.
Jeff Pash, NFL lead negotiator in the talks for a new collective bargaining agreemen, was also part of the call. He explained that while the league does appear to be bringing in more revenue than ever, that operating costs have also risen dramatically.
"When stadiums were built in the last couple of decades they were built with public money, now they're being built entirely with private money or heavily with private money," Pash said.
Pash pointed out that the Giants and New York Jets each have approximately $650 million dollars in debt from the construction of New Meadowlands Stadium and $45 million annually in operating costs.
"The current structure of the collective bargaining agreement doesn't recognize those costs. It's not a question of revenue or popularity, it's a question of having enough of a return."
Goodell broached the league's financial situation this way:
"The league is no different than any other business," Goodell said. "Our consumers, the fans, are impacted by what's going on with the economy. We have challenges getting people into the stadium. It's costing more money to build those stadiums, maintain those stadiums, operate those stadiums. It's costing more money to get the fans into the stadium and, quite frankly, we're very concerned about what the cost of attending our events is. It cannot continue to escalate at the rate that it has."
-- See SBNation.com for much more on this interview with Goodell and NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash.