Top NFL Honcho Envisions Smaller Stadiums

January 27th, 2013

It’s no coincidence that an executive vice president of the NFL is publicly talking about building smaller stadiums that are geared toward driving high-profit beer sales, attracting young fans, spiking demand for tickets and capturing the entire NFL Sunday experience often enjoyed at home.

Eric Grubman, who heads NFL business operations, explained to the L.A. Times that smaller is the future.

The next generation of NFL stadiums could be markedly different than the ones we now know, Grubman said. He envisions smaller and more intimate venues, possibly more like basketball arenas, with standing-room-only clubs at the corners.

“What if a new stadium we built wasn’t 70,000, but it was 40,000 seats with 20,000 standing room?” he said. “But the standing room was in a bar-type environment with three sides of screens, and one side where you see the field. Completely connected. And in those three sides of screens, you not only got every piece of NFL content, including replays, Red Zone [Channel], and analysis, but you got every other piece of news and sports content that you would like to have if you were at home.

“Now you have the game, the bar and social setting, and you have the content. What’s that ticket worth? What’s that environment feel like to a young person? Where do you want to be? Do you want to be in that seat, or do you want to be in that pavilion?”

Whether it’s player safety, business opportunities, or adjustments to the game itself, Grubman said, the key for the NFL is to be vigilant and bold in its thinking.

“When you’re watched and followed by 200 million people,” he said, “little things can become big things, and when you mishandle those little things, they become giant.”

This should reinforce to Bucs fans that lagging attendance and blackouts is a leaguewide problem, not just a Tampa Bay thing. Of course, any fan who watches games in other cities, from Carolina to Oakland and others, sees plenty of empty seats regularly.

It’s significant that a league executive is talking about smaller stadiums, especially at a high-attention time before the Super Bowl.

Across the Tampa Bay region, there’s a lot of fresh talk and news surrounding the Tampa Bay Rays potentially building a new stadium in Tampa. But with 15 years in the can for the Raymond James Stadium, a stadium that’s now out of the Super Bowl rotation and somewhat outdated, Joe thinks it’ll be much sooner rather than later that new-stadium chatter or serious renovation talk is considered for the Bucs’ home turf.

20 Responses to “Top NFL Honcho Envisions Smaller Stadiums”

  1. Mark Says:

    The Bucs have already submitted plans to the league for some major changes to concessions, addition of a team store, and an HD scoreboard. We’ll be back in the “rotation” pretty quick.

  2. MadMax Says:

    Lower the prices of the seats, including season tickets, and stop price gouging on beer and concessions. Starting there will go a long way.

  3. Have A Nice Day Says:

    I love if the stadium was smaller. A more intimate setting.

  4. OB Says:

    Unless you tailgate, take the driving out of it, have regional buses, light rail, etc go to the stadiums, malls, etc., and more would come. How wants to pay for parking and walk a few miles to get to the stadium? If prepaying the transportation ticket is necessary, so be it. No one wants to fight the traffic to any of these places also, plus you can’t drink and drive.

  5. JobBucsFan 1.5 Says:

    It’s about time the NFL puts their money where there mouth is. Out of the Super Bowl rotation because RJS is outdated is utter BS. I get tired of these major sports leagues holding cities hostage to their demands. They want more luxurious owner suites for their royal asses then let them put up the money for it. It’s just like Selig to say the dome is inadequate only because he doesn’t like his private suite compared to other stadiums. The
    elitist attitudes are getting worse and they expect us, the fans, the tax payers to subsidize their elitist behavior. Fifteen years and RJS is already considered a dinosaur. Get Real.

  6. Miguel El Magnifico Says:

    ” Joe thinks it’ll be much sooner rather than later that new-stadium chatter or serious renovation talk is considered for the Bucs’ home turf.”

    I guess the Glazer’s are buying all the drinks this week? I’ve never heard anything so ludicrous in my life. The rumble that we just felt was Chris Thomas rolling in his grave.

  7. Andrew 1 Says:

    so let me get this straight…they went from small stadiums, to big stadiums, and are now going back to small stadiums? why not just have kept the older stadiums and made some renovations on them? I dont think this plan will be put into effect because selling out a 60,000 people stadium at cheaper ticket prices would still be more lucrative than selling out a 30,000 people stadium at higher ticket prices. plus if all stadiums will eventually become smaller then what happens when super bowl time rolls around when the super bowl could easily sell out a 70,000 seat stadium? I know one thing though, Jerry Jones would be pissed as hell if he had to move to a smaller stadium and demolish that palace that he built, even if it is just a future generation idea.

  8. Andrew 1 Says:

    I think this is as likely to happen as the bucs moving to L.A.

  9. rj Says:

    The only thing that’s going to bring people back to the game is lowering the price of the game experience. It shuoldn’t cost a weeks pay to take your family to a game. If they make smaller stadiums there going to raise ticket prices even more. The NFL is killing itself. enough already.

  10. Yar Says:

    Sure why not, 70k at $100 a ticket ($7mil), or 40k at $200 a ticket ($8mil) and for those that can’t afford $200 they can stand in a bar for $40 ($800k) or borrow the money from their parents. Don’t you just love big business.

  11. XRAY Vision Says:

    Just dropped my season tickets to free up the money for family vacations.
    I still plan to attend a few games a year, but the price gouging is out of
    control & offends me. Other past longtime ticket holders have told me
    the same (regardless of financial status).
    Not just empty stadiums telling a story – who here walked a country mile
    only to pass the 3/4 empty Jr College parking lot on Sundays ($25) ?
    The price of the food/beer?
    Good luck with this approach! The young club-hoppers will likely jump
    aboard, but many will then move on to the newest fad, individually or
    collectively. The trend of core season ticket holders and family’s bailing
    will continue if pricing gets higher – Period..!
    The NFL & owners better start up another slush fund to pay off drinking
    & driving lawsuits. Big wallet, BIG target, & where will the sympathy
    come from? Consider the public’s perspective on stadium politics,
    player salaries, price gouging, & a stated goal of getting the young beer
    drinkers off their couches and out of their neighborhood sports bars.

  12. blackmagic00 Says:

    Brees to Vincent jackson touchdown. Wow

  13. USN_bit Says:

    NOOOOO! THIS IS WHY THERE ARE MASS SHOOTINGS IN THIS WORLD! THE BIGWIGS OVERSTEP THERE BOUNDERIES AND WE CAN’T DO A THING! i want these stadiums to stay. screw intimacy. I DONT WANNA STAND FOR 4 HOURS. this is premium high class B.S. ugh. i friggin hate that Roger “goodbye NFL tradition” Goodell is letting this just happen. FIRE HIS NEUTRAL ASS AND GET A COMMISH THAT HAS BALLLLLLLLLLS! AND WILL STAND FOR TRADITION! ANYONE ELSE WITH ME ON THIS!?

  14. Joe Says:


    Lower the prices of the seats, including season tickets, and stop price gouging on beer and concessions. Starting there will go a long way.

    Haven’t the Bucs already done that?

  15. Joe Says:


    The NFL is killing itself. enough already.

    The NFL has never been more healthy financially. Joe will quote a Forbes article from last year.

    Financial terms have not been released, but the three networks are expected to pay roughly $3 billion a year on average annually compared to the current $1.93 billion they collectively pay. ESPN re-upped its deal with the NFL earlier this year at an annual rate of $1.9 billion. Factor in other media deals with the NFL Network, DirectTV ($1 billion annually), Westwood One radio and others, and NFL teams will divvy up nearly $7 billion in media money starting in 2014. That is more than $200 million per team every year before one ticket, beer or jersey is sold.

    So you can see that whatever few thousand the Bucs are short of a sellout each home game is a drop in the bucket to the gross income of the NFL.

  16. Joe Says:


    The rumble that we just felt was Chris Thomas rolling in his grave.

    A bit of a history lesson for you. The stadium was built from tax funds approved by a majority of voters in a Hillsborough County referendum, which if Joe is correct, also sets aside funds for a variety of public services, cops, schools, etc.

    Repeat that last sentence a couple of times so it can sink in. The upgrade to the CITS was/is part of that same voter-approved referendum.

    Joe loved Chris Thomas like few others did but his ax he had to grind with the Glazers was out of hand and frankly, unethical since he was supposed to be an objective reporter during his real job.

    If the meager bump in taxes he suffered was so offensive — and trust Joe, Thomas wasn’t exactly making $10 an hour — he could have easily moved to Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Hernando, Citrus, Manatee or Sarasota counties to escape paying for the stadium. Instead, he built a new house after the stadium was erected. Guess he wasn’t so against the stadium tax afterall, but Joe assumes it made for some interesting radio. :/

  17. MadMax Says:

    “Haven’t the Bucs already done that?”

    I know, but Im talking about all the teams. I live in SC and its not like complaining about Buc game prices can do anything for me anyways. But I have friends who drive to see the Falcons and Panthers (2hrs or less drive from here), and thats what they complain about and they’ve been to less games the past 3 years.
    We all know how prices get jacked up on concessions……and its hard to get a cheap ticket but not want to enjoy some beer and food too, and thats where it can cost more than the ticket. I know just from our semipro baseball and hockey teams here, they get you on the concessions, and its just too much for some people, especially with kids.

    So if they would just lower the prices across the board, im not saying give stuff away for $1, but a reasonable price, then maybe more people will start attending.

  18. gbuc Says:

    why no stories on what’s happening with the stadium in Miami? I think it should be pointed out the massive renovations that are planned there. The Miami politicians are already going to the state for funding. I believe the NFL is also involved in helping them with the funding. This would be a perfect time for Tampa’s pols. to jump on board with them to get a piece of that pie to take RJS to the next level. They’re talking about erecting a massive awning for the sun, along with giant replay boards at each of the 4 corners of the stadium, among other improvements. Our plans for RJS are weak compared to theirs. Miami’s political pull has always put ours to shame. I see a huge fight coming between Sports Authority and the Glazers. And for what? We need to think progressive and propel our stadium back to an elite status.

  19. Joe Says:


    First, this is a Bucs site, not a Phins site. Second, Joe has written about the Miami situation relative to the Bucs before.

  20. gbuc Says:

    Yo, I’m a twenty year buc season ticket holder. I could give two sh*ts about the dolphins. My point was comparing the two cities and how Miami gets things done compared to us. We need to keep the pressure on Tampa’s politicians and the Glazers to get the best in-house product we can have. Unlike some fans, I enjoy the tradition and true feel of the being at the games. There is no better perspective of each individual player’s and the team’s performance than being at the game. Forgive me if I missed your recent articles on the subject, however I know that it is at the forefront now and it might be a good idea to rally our fans.