OXNARD, Calif. — NFL teams are monetizing practice. . . . and yes, we are talking about practice. With fans ready to watch football by any means necessary, training camp has become another opportunity to generate revenue. Whether it is selling joint-practice T-shirts or moving a pro shop from Dallas to Oxnard, the logic is simple.
NFL teams make more money (and actually share less money with the rest of the NFL) if fans purchase paraphernalia on-site. That means Jerry Jones and Co. have a vested interest in selling as much merchandise as possible during their time in Southern California. Two separate Cowboys Pro Shops are set up at camp, and a good number of people are willing to purchase shirts and footballs and have them signed by any player who ventures near the crowd. This could be just the beginning.
The NFL knows how to make money. Although entrance to Cowboys’ camp is free (as it is for most, but not all, teams), it would not be surprising to see that change. Would a $10-$20 fee turn fans away? Some fans are even selling tickets to training camp on the secondary market. The stands are packed at a facility more than an hour drive from Los Angeles.
The appetite for football is insatiable. Making money off parking, concessions and merchandise is already a plus for teams, but in all honesty, every team could be making more. Teams have most likely considered charging for practice, and probably haven’t done so yet because the ROI isn’t enough to move the needle. With teams drawing more and more fans to training camp, don’t be surprised if that happens soon.
Michael Colangelo is Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute and Senior Editor of The Fields of Green.