Lockout'11: Corporate sponsors leery

NEW ORLEANS -- Greetings from the scene of the 2011 NFL owners meeting, where team officials are beginning to arrive and the lockout is already at the tip of many tongues.

Many of you are wondering what urgency either the NFL or its players might have to resolve their differences in March, especially when the industry's primary revenue producers -- regular-season games -- won't begin for another six months.

After all, most players' compensation doesn't kick in until games begin. (Their health insurance is suspended, however.) And obviously, the teams themselves generate most of their income from television money and ticket sales tied to games.

So when I had an opportunity Sunday, I asked Green Bay Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy if there are any areas where teams are already feeling the impact of the lockout. According to Murphy, some corporate sponsors are expressing concern about renewing their deals with the uncertainty of the 2011 regular season.

"For a lot of sponsorships, there is a lead time," Murphy said. "They're worried [whether] this will be resolved in time for [them] to be able to start programs in time for the season."

Murphy also suggested that some teams are having trouble getting commitments for premium seating in their stadiums, although the Packers are not likely to be one of those.

Typically, you rarely hear NFL executives provide any level of specifics about their revenues, sales and losses. I'll be interested to see how much of that information trickles out this week with much of the national media that covers the NFL assembled in once place.