Last month, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick went postal on the NFL owners after they declined to implement his suggestion for goal-line cameras to improve play review. The stated reason for the decision was that the high cost of installing HD cameras at all 31 NFL stadiums made the proposal infeasible.
But for a league that racks in billions of dollars every season, how could it be that a few extra cameras are so cost prohibitive?
ESPN's Kevin Seifert discussed the matter with his contacts in the industry, and while estimated costs vary, the general consensus is the cameras would cost between $20 million and $30 million. That's a relatively small sum considering the league's profitability, but that alone isn't the NFL's main concern about the cameras.
Adding cameras to the sidelines may not automatically result in better replay. If the cameras are placed too close to the ground, people on the sideline or players on the field could obstruct their view. On the other hand, a camera placed too far above the ground might not provide the needed view to see whether the football broke the goal line.
Additionally, because every NFL stadium differs, finding ways to consistently place the cameras could cause issues. As Seifert notes, there could be fan outrage if the camera angles at Lambeau Field consistently provided better officiating calls than the angles available at Qualcomm Stadium.
The league is also worried that installing the cameras could negatively affect the experience for the fans in attendance. NFL games are already some of the most expensive sports experiences, especially for those who purchase tickets for seats close to the action. The league can't approve of cameras that might significantly block the views of those watching at the stadium.
So while goal line cameras will likely improve officiating once they're installed, it makes sense for the league to figure out how best to implement them first. Once that matter is sorted out, it shouldn't take long for the new cameras to make their NFL debut.