When You Have to Fight, Fight Fair
Are you ready for some football? Not if you live in Los Angeles. For the past 17 years the second-largest media market in the U.S. has not had a team since the Rams and Raiders skipped town. But beware: your hometown franchise might decide California is the place they ought to be.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell knows that the league is losing untold millions by not being in Los Angeles. In a memo sent to league owners back in June, Goodell says the “prospects for a new facility are better than they have been in many years.” He also wrote that any football stadium built in L.A. should be prepared to host two teams.
Is Goodell putting the squeeze on current NFL cities? Since the NFL has no plans to expand beyond the current 32 clubs, the implication is two teams would be sought out to make the move. That puts pressure on host cities to keep team owners happy.
Since the NFL made an end run out of Southern California, 28 of the league’s 32 franchises have built new stadiums or renovated old ones at a total cost of $10 billion. Taxpayers covered $6 billion of that total.
Or ponder this: has the NFL done better by not being in Los Angeles? After all, the threat of moving a franchise has gotten taxpayers to pay 60 percent of the tab for new and renovated stadiums in the last 18 years.
These cities that want to keep their franchises are going to have a fight on their hands.
When It Is Your Time to Fight
Sometimes you have to fight. Let’s talk about four deal making rules when it comes down to a fight.
Rule #1: Be a Silent Warrior. If you’re making the move to fight, don’t talk about it internally or externally. If your prospect, your people, or anyone else asks you, the answer is: “We’re just working through a few issues right now, but things are going well in general.” At some point you will have to play nice with whoever is left standing; don’t gloat to your friends and don’t warn your enemies.
Rule #2: Go Vince Lombardi On Them. Sure, an ancient Chinese military strategist said “The greatest generals win without battle.” Can you win this deal without a fight? If not, give it everything you got. As Lombardi said: “If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?”
Rule #3: Don’t Get Personal. Your opinions, their intentions, and the he-said/she-said conversations—they all make you look weak. Besides that, your opponent will go back to your supporters at the company after the phone call or meeting and retell the story, spinning it in his or her favor. Stick to the facts, the documents, the numbers, timelines, emails, meeting notes… You get it.
Rule #4: Giving a Little Ground is Okay. Deal making shouldn’t be a goal line defense. Concede the little points. There has to be some ground to give. Everyone believes there are two sides to the story, so be ready to give on some issues that are not material but show balance. Stay focused on the core issues of the fight.
Final aside – Regardless of whether you are the NFL, a city trying to keep a team, a business owner working through an issue with a client or vendor, there is a time where you are going to have to fight. The bigger the deal, the more time you need to spend on your fight strategy.