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Monday’s roundup: NFL revenue-sharing pool grows 21 percent

Eben Novy-Williams
Bloomberg News

The National Football League’s revenue-sharing pool grew 21 percent to $7.3 billion last season, based on financial data released Monday by the Green Bay Packers.

Each of the league’s 32 teams received $226.4 million in national revenue in the year through March, up from $187.7 million last year, according to Packers accounts released today. The amount comprises mostly television revenue and also includes national sponsorships, licensing and most merchandise sales.

Packers total revenue rose 16 percent from 2014 to a record $376 million. Green Bay’s operating profit, which fluctuates due to stadium renovation expenses and the cyclical nature of player salaries, was $39.4 million, $15 million shy of the franchise record.

“The Packers had another very strong year financially,” team president Mark Murphy said in a conference call. “Really for three main reasons — the continued strong performance by the team on the field, great fan support that we receive off the field, and then the continued very strong popularity of the NFL nationally.”

The Packers are the only publicly owned franchise in major North American sports and the team’s annual financial release provides a rare look at the books of an NFL franchise. The team issues shares that don’t appreciate in value and cannot be resold.

Record revenue

NFL teams split a record $6 billion last year, due largely to increased carriage agreements with NFL Network. Since then, the NFL began nine-year extensions with broadcast partners CBS, Fox and NBC — deals that represented a 60 percent rights-fee increase.

The league last year also sold CBS the rights to eight Thursday night games for what Guggenheim Securities estimated was between $250 million and $300 million. There will be another increase next season, as the Thursday night contract was renewed in February and the league reached an eight-year, $12 billion agreement with DirecTV through 2022.

Murphy said that while league revenue has grown in areas outside of television — such as NFL.com and NFL Network — broadcast rights are a “high percentage” of each team’s revenue share.

The Packers’ local revenue increased 9 percent to $149 million, with more than half coming from the new team pro shop, which opened in July 2014. It puts the team’s local revenue — and overall revenue — at ninth in the 32-team league, Murphy said, even though the team plays in the country’s 68th-largest media market, the NFL’s smallest.

“We strive to be right below the league average in terms of our ticket prices, so we don’t want to generate all the revenue on the backs of our season-ticket holders,” Murphy said, citing meetings and special events in the Lambeau Field atrium, as well as stadium tours.

Rising expenses

Higher expenses at a time when player costs shrunk were a product of stadium renovations, debt refinancing and costs affiliated with Titletown, a project on team-owned land around Lambeau Field being developed to create local jobs and attract consumers. A Cabela’s store in the district had 2.8 million visitors in the past year, Murphy said, calling it a “first step” to the project.

“As we bring more people into the community, we will have more people going to our pro shop, going to our Hall of Fame and taking tours,” Murphy said. “Hopefully we’ll have some revenue from our leases and other things, but we’re really trying to make an attraction and bring more people into the community.”

Lambeau Field is the second-largest stadium by capacity in the NFL behind MetLife Stadium, the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets. The Packers are undertaking a $55 million renovation of suites and club seats.

Green Bay Packers Inc. has been a publicly owned non-profit since 1932. In 2012 the team raised $64 million from more than 250,000 shareholders in its fifth stock sale.

Mistress kills Barnett’s wife, police say

A former NFL player’s mistress, apparently jealous that he was taking his wife on a trip to Las Vegas, drove to his home near Atlanta, kidnapped her romantic rival and led officers on a chase into Alabama before killing the wife and herself, police said.

Lisa Brown, 46, showed up at the workplace of former Buffalo Bills player Buster Barnett on the morning of July 15 and was upset about the planned trip, Clayton County police spokeswoman Officer Charlene Watson-Fraser said. She then went to Barnett’s home in Ellenwood and abducted his wife, 50-year-old Sandra Barnett.

Ruby Chester, a longtime friend of Sandra Barnett, said she was on the phone with her about 11:20 a.m. on July 15 when someone knocked on Barnett’s door. Chester told The Associated Press that she could hear a woman’s voice yelling, “Open this door! Open this door or I’m going to kill you!”

Chester said she heard Barnett talking to the woman: “Don’t hurt me, ma’am! I don’t know you!” Then she asked, “Are you Lisa Brown?”

Chester said she and Sandra Barnett had known each other for 10 years and kept no secrets from each other, so she knew that Buster Barnett, who she said is now an Atlanta school teacher, had been involved in an affair with a woman named Lisa Brown. Chester said Brown had harassed her close friend for at least a couple of years as Barnett tried to keep her marriage together.

“Lisa Brown had been aggressive toward Barnett and had been bothering Barnett off and on for some time — showing up at the house, texting her, calling her,” Chester said. But her friend would never do anything about it, leaving it for her husband to handle, Chester said.

Extra points

The NFL and the NFL Players Association have been ordered into settlement negotiations on the case filed in federal court by the union over Adrian Peterson’s suspension.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Janie Mayeron issued her order Monday. She set a settlement conference for Aug. 13, a half-hour following a previously scheduled hearing on the case in front of U.S. District Judge David Doty.

The NFLPA filed a petition last November, seeking a rejection of NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson’s decision to deny Peterson’s appeal of his suspension. Peterson was punished by the league for the child abuse charge he faced in Texas regarding his young son.

... Titans wide receiver Justin Hunter has been arrested and is being held without bond over an assault that allegedly took place at a bar during the Fourth of July weekend.

Hunter, 24, was booked into his hometown jail at the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office for a charge listed as malicious intent, stabbing, cutting, wounding. A sheriff’s office spokesman did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press.

WTKR-TV reported a person was taken to a hospital after a large fight July 3 at the Sandbar Raw Bar in an oceanfront tourist area.

... Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson will be added to the team’s Ring of Honor during halftime of their games against the 49ers on Sept. 27.

Wilson had 987 tackles (716 solo), 27 interceptions, 251/2 sacks, 15 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and four touchdowns in 181 regular-season games over 12 seasons with the Cardinals and was a five-time Pro Bowl selection.

Associated Press contributed