NFL Procurement: By The Numbers

NFL Procurement: By The Numbers

The National Football League is the most popular professional sport league in America, and one of the most celebrated entertainment organizations in the world. NFL games boast the highest average attendance of any professional sports league on the planet - 67,591 fans per game on average. With 32 teams in the League, that's a lot of seats in a lot of stadiums!

On the gridiron, football players need uniforms, equipment and material support, while stadiums and related facilities require constant maintenance and upkeep. No matter how you look at it, it all adds up to large-scale and complex procurement requirements for teams, cities and the League.

Here are just a few examples of how procurement is essential to the functioning of the NFL.

The football manufacturer Wilson has been the exclusive manufacturer of official NFL footballs since 1941. The company produces 4000 footballs per day, with one full cowhide providing leather for 10 balls. During the Super Bowl, each team is provided with 108 balls – 54 for practice and 54 for the game.

Super Bowl Trophy
Bet you didn’t know that the iconic sterling silver Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy only costs $25,000. Peanuts!

Helmets from official NFL helmet maker Riddell retail for $120 - $400 each, depending on the model. We hope that NFL teams receive a bulk discount for their helmet purchases!

Player Equipment
According to, the average cost of equipment per player in the NFL is $1100 - $1200.

Harvard researcher Judith Grant Long notes that about 70 percent of all NFL stadiums have been built using taxpayer money. This means that the majority of football stadiums in the United States are the result of Public Private Partnerships.

Speaking of stadiums…

Building a Stadium
Have you ever wondered how the massive prices of NFL stadiums get that way? Vanderbilt University published a detailed estimate for the construction costs of a new stadium for the Dallas Cowboys in 2010, and it provides some interesting insights.

According to the estimate, procuring the basic structural elements of the new stadium would cost as follows:

Excavation & Dewatering: $14,528,269
Plaza Landscape: $4,188,950
Foundations: $12,196,862
Basement Walls: $11,849,880
Access Tunnel: $4,460,304
Playing Field: $2,860,167

And this is just the beginning! According to the same estimate, the retractable roof for the stadium project was projected to cost over $100 million. Stadiums are big, flashy projects that construction companies, engineering and architectural service providers and many other contributors dream about winning. With these numbers, we can see why.

Of course, estimated costs of construction and actual costs are two different things entirely – and it’s a rare project that comes in under budget.

League Operations and Expenses
Because the National Football League is a not-for-profit organization, it is easy to review their tax records to see where they spend their considerable budget.

Here are some quick figures from the NFL Fiscal Year 2013 budget:

Office expenses: $699,702
Information Technology: $2,181,815
Occupancy: $6,777,551
Travel: $12,386,785
Insurance: $2,127,449
Interest payments: $49,630,935
Investigator fees (!): $2,320,618
Miscellaneous: $6,243,754
Event production: $15,256,975

These are just the costs associated with operating the NFL administration – they don’t reflect the operating expenses of individual NFL teams.

The NFL and Sustainability in Procurement

The NFL has teamed up with the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to create the Green Advisor, “a guide to help pro sports teams implement eco-intelligent practices in their hometowns.” The initiative aims to reduce waste, improve energy efficiency, implement recycling and water conservation programs and other environmentally-friendly policies among professional sports teams. This is an exciting initiative that hopefully will prompt the adoption of sustainable procurement practices by other major entertainment organizations.

Nathan Munn |


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