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July 8, 2011

 

Jets camp loss spurs AG lockout review

Attorney General examining economic cost of NFL labor dispute, investigating antitrust violations

By MATTHEW NOJIRI
Staff Reporter
mnojiri@cortlandstandardnews.net

Citing the economic blow to places like Cortland, New York’s attorney general is looking into whether the NFL lockout violates antitrust laws.
In a letter sent Tuesday to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Assistant Attorney General Richard Schwartz said he was concerned about the “serious, adverse impact that the National Football League’s player lockout creates for New York State businesses and residents.”
Schwartz cited the Jets decision to cancel its training camp at SUNY Cortland as one example of how the lockout will affect New York’s economy. “The state college and its surrounding communities expected millions of dollars to flow into the region as a result of the training camp. That influx has now evaporated”
Given the economic losses at stake, the Attorney General’s Office has the authority to investigate, said Marty Mack, a former Cortland mayor who now works as executive deputy attorney general for regional affairs.
Under the Donnelly Act, the Attorney General’s Office has broad authority to investigate anti-competitive conduct unless “legality of the ... practice is so well established, either by the plain language of the statute or by existing judicial interpretation, as to be free from doubt,” Schwartz wrote in his letter to Goodell.
Mack said the antitrust issue revolves around whether the 32 NFL teams can join together to lock out the players and leave them with no place to play.
“While we are hopeful that the NFL and its players will reach an agreement to end the ongoing lockout in the near future, this office will take all appropriate steps to protect New Yorkers — many of whom rely on the significant economic activity generated by the NFL— as well as state and local governmental entities,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement Thursday.
The Attorney General’s Office is seeking information from the NFL and the NFL Players Association for its investigation.
The office is looking for any analysis performed indicating the lockout’s economic impact on the United States and New York, as well as other contracts the owners have with New York businesses or for stadiums, training facilities and offices in New York.
In addition to other information, the office also wants to know how many New York state residents would lose their jobs because of the lockout.
The player lockout will “inflict significant economic injuries statewide” that will extend to transportation systems, hotels, restaurants and other local establishments, Schwartz said.
SUNY Cortland released a study after last year’s camp, which took place at the campus from Aug. 1 through 19, indicating that the camp generated $5.8 million in economic activity for the Cortland region, 36 percent more than the nearly $4.3 million a year earlier.
Attendance was estimated at 41,000 by the Jets, a 21 percent increase over 2009’s 34,000. The New York Giants hold their training camp at the University at Albany and Buffalo Bills hold their camp at St. John Fisher College near Rochester.
“The NFL lockout of the players has a significant impact on New York,” Mack said.

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