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NFL teams brace for stadium hiring struggles

Mike Florio dives into the PFT mailbag to answer a question about cities that could potentially see NFL expansion teams -- including San Diego, London and Chicago.

Good news for the NFL: Fans will be back in stadiums this year. Bad news for the NFL: Fans will be back in stadiums this year.

There’s a bad-news component to a return to football normalcy because, as a league source tells PFT, teams are bracing for struggles when it comes to hiring stadium workers.

The game-day experience, from parking-lot attendants to ticket takers to concessions workers to ushers to security and beyond, entails well over a thousand employees per stadium. Last year, most of those persons had little or no work. Now, with a year away from it, teams have become concerned that many won’t want to come back.

From COVID concerns to the basic fact that the allure of working for an NFL team in an NFL stadium may have diminished since 2019, teams realize that they may face a real challenge when it comes to hiring workers -- the same type of challenge with which many businesses throughout the country have dealt. As many will say, the simplest solution entails paying more money to the stadium workers. And that may be precisely what happens. However, to some extent and in some fashion, those costs inevitably will flow through to the customer.

Then there’s the reality that some teams (i.e., the smart ones) will develop a proactive plan for dealing with the problem (including but not limited to automation of tasks, where possible) and that other teams (i.e., the dumb ones) will end up undermining the experience for fans by playing it cheap and/or not having around strategy when it comes to staffing the stadiums.