NEW YORK (OP) -- In a surprising move sure to rock professional sports, The National Football League announced today the creation of a 31st team. Tentatively dubbed "The Federal Co-ops," the new team is slated to begin play in four years, or for the 2013 season.
Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, said, "President Obama and the Democratic leadership have been in secret negotiations for the past several months to provide the funding necessary for a true 'America's Team' in the NFL. Team owners were persuaded by the fact that more than 60 percent of U.S. residents live outside the immediate market area of an NFL franchise. This represents about 180 million people who are not directly covered by one of our teams, and the Administration convinced us our existing cadre of 30 teams did not allow for appropriate competition."
According to sources, the White House pushed hard for the Co-ops to begin play as early as this season. However due to funding concerns, as well as the influence of a vocal minority of team owners, the introduction of the new team will not begin play until 2013. The funding for the Co-ops is being generated by a surtax on the revenues of the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers, the two teams with the current highest market value. The remaining teams will not be subject to the surtax, however the agreement allows for the surtax to be leveed among the other teams as soon as 2011.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, "It is frankly immoral that so many of our citizens have gone so long without a professional football team they can call their own. No longer will residents of Omaha have to feel like second-class citizens by having to identify with the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams or Denver Broncos. All of these are fine teams, but they just don't provide the access and affordability that a federal team will be able to provide."
The Co-ops will be owned by a group of football fan citizens from each market area without a professional team. These individuals will be named by a soon-to-be created "Football Czar," who will be based in the White House. The team will not have a formal home stadium, but instead will rotate its home games throughout the regions of the country which -- until now -- did not have a professional franchise.
Ticket prices for Co-op games will start at $5 for end zone seating and top out at $20 for luxury suites. The team will also provide up to twenty percent of the seats in each game free to residents with an income lower than five times the national poverty level. In addition, Goodell announced that television rights and revenues will be shared disproportionately with the new league entrant. "Initially, the Co-ops will receive ten percent of television revenues, building up to 80 percent by their fifth year in the league. We feel certain this distribution ratio will have no material impact on the rest of the league. Our existing franchises have a history of financial stability, though it's obvious they have inflated their ticket prices. The new competition will keep all of our team's pricing structures at a competitive level without jeopardizing their ability to make reasonable profits."
In another major announcement, the NFL plans to widen the standard football field by ten yards and will add ten yards to the length of each endzone. Goodell stated, "The White House has also reasonably demonstrated the size of the field used in the Canadian Football League provides for a more open, fast-paced game. We agree." Sources indicate the NFL Competition Committee is also privately giving serious consideration to modifying the shape of the football to become more spherical, resembling the type of ball used in other countries' version of football.