In a move that could jeopardize the 2011 NFL season, the players union decided late Friday to decertify, after two weeks of federally mediated negotiations in Washington failed to produce an agreement between the leagues' owners and players.
The collective-bargaining agreement expires Friday at midnight. The union's next move will be to seek an injunction to keep the owners from locking the players out.
What this means is that Americans are facing the specter of a fall without football, which would ripple through the economies of the league's cities: fewer beers sold, less merchandise moved from shelves, stadiums across the country silenced—the rites of late-summer, early-autumn Sundays changed as we know it.
It is not just the proceeds from Sunday sales that are on the line. Many NFL cities have made a public investment, either issuing bonds or raising taxes. Here’s a look at the top 15 NFL cities rated by public investment in an NFL stadium, according to estimates gathered from multiple sources, including public records, media reports, and football.ballparks.com, a football-reference site.