NFL owners made a handful of rule changes last week's owners meeting in Atlanta, from pushing back the trade deadline to adding mandatory pads. In addition to those changes, the league also approved an increase in each team's ability to borrow.
According to the Sports Business Journal, the NFL upped the amount each team is allowed to borrow by $50 million, from $150 million to $200 million.
That is the first increase in the per-team debt limit since 2005. The financial outlook for professional football has never been better, buoyed by the 10-year collective bargaining agreement reached in July 2011. CBS, Fox and NBC agreed to a $24 million extension of their broadcast contract last fall that pays the NFL $3 billion through 2022. That followed a deal with ESPN that pays the league $1.9 billion through 2021, and the league is shopping a package of Thursday night games currently housed on its own NFL Network.
The increased debt limit comes at a time when several teams are building new stadiums or attempting to rebuild or renovate existing facilities. Elected official in Minnesota recently approved a $975 million plan for a new Vikings stadium that includes a $477 million contribution from the team.
The NFL has been notoriously conservative when it comes to teams borrowing money. Five years ago, Kaplan notes, the NFL tried to lower the borrowing level for teams by $25 million, but objections from the NFLPA stopped that.