New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is investigating whether the National Football League violated antitrust laws with its current labor lockout.
Schneiderman's office sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about the investigation, citing the impact on New York businesses. Even if the season starts on a delayed basis, the revenue generated by Bills, Giants and Jets training camps in upstage communities would likely be lost.
The players union estimates that the lockout would eliminate 3,000 jobs and cost local communities $160 million if it lasts all season.
Schneiderman's letter asks the NFL to turn over documents detailing the agreements teams have with training facilities, estimates of NFL merchandising sales in New York, and any analysis the NFL may have done to estimate the financial impact of the lockout.
The probe might seem like simple grandstanding were it not for the tax breaks the state and local governments give NFL teams. According to the Buffalo News, Erie County provides about $3 million a year in upkeep to the county-owned Ralph Wilson Stadium and about $4 million under a category of support called game day and operating expenses. The teams received these tax breaks in part because of the positive economic impact the training camps would have on the communities.
The antitrust laws the attorney general says the NFL may be breaking do not relate directly to the revenue loss. Rather, they protect against conduct that harms competition, and awards triple the damages. Schneiderman's actions may simply spur the owners to reach a new collective bargaining agreement sooner.