The series 2001 bond proceeds will be used primarily in connection with the League's G-3 Stadium Finance Program and to refinance borrowings under the Stadium Funding Credit Facility. The G-3 Resolution authorizes the NFL to advance up to 50% (with a maximum advance of $150 million) of the total private contribution to a stadium construction project, as evaluated on a case by case basis. Participating clubs, currently the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, and Seattle Seahawks, will borrow G-3 funds provided by the League.
The Packers recently were OK'd to receive $13 million from the league through the G-3 finance program toward the $295 million Lambeau Field renovation project. The Packers plan to expand the stadium seating to 71,000.
'With the G-3 Stadium Finance Program and the supporting bonds, the NFL has taken the next step in stadium financing, providing more teams with the enhanced economics and franchise stability that new stadiums tend to bring,' said Champeau. 'The G-3 program is a good example of the cooperation of the league's owners.'
Fitch's 'A+' rating reflects the NFL's position as the most popular professional sports league in the U.S. It has a strong and enviable economic model, which includes $18.3 billion eight-year national broadcast contracts, significant revenue sharing among member clubs, a proven track record of conservative financial policies, and a solid collective bargaining agreement with its players union which includes the only 'hard' salary cap in U.S. professional sports. In addition, this transaction benefits from the NFL's first-in-line access to league-managed revenues, strong forecasted debt service coverage, adequate legal provisions and covenants, and ample reserve levels.
Primary risks include the league's reliance on favorable renewals of national media contracts, the potential for a league-wide work stoppage, the potential for increased league debt levels, and possible changes in the league's constitution and by-laws relating to the commissioner's assessment rights, which is unlikely.
The NFL is a not-for-profit unincorporated association of 32 member teams and was originally founded in 1920 with eighteen franchises. The league's current structure was created in 1970 as a result of the merger between the American Football League and the NFL.
A full report on the NFL is available within FitchResearch, Fitch's subscription-based web site located at 'www.fitchratings.com'. In addition, Fitch's rating methodology for sports-related project finance, asset securitization, corporate, and public finance debt, 'The Changing Game of Sports Finance, Economics of Professional Sports and Trends in Sports Finance', can also be found on the web site.
Contact: Daniel C. Champeau 1-415-732-1756, San Francisco; Derek McGirt 1-212-908-0718 or James S. Gilliland 1-212-908-0575, New York.