The federal appeals court that oversaw the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill has denied the motion to give the Buccaneers any compensation, court records show.
The organization was seeking $19.5 million to cover revenue losses that allegedly were due to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, some 360 miles away from Tampa Bay’s stadium.
In order to fit the criteria to receive compensation, the Buccaneers had to prove in a three-month window between from May through December 2010 that they had 15 percent or more of their revenue decrease from that same window the previous year.
On top of that, they had to show the same three-month window the following year between May and December of 2011 that the revenue went back up 10 percent. This is known as a “V-Shaped Test.”
Through this method, the Bucs were able to prove the 15 percent decrease from May-July in 2010 from that same period in 2009, but were not quite able to show the 10 percent rebound in 2011 in that same time frame.
According to ProFootballTalk, Tampa Bay received a payment from NFL Ventures, which is how the league gives revenue to the teams. Instead of recording those payments in January and August (like they did in 2010), the Buccaneers posted them in the May-July window, which resulted in a 500 percent increase.
Essentially, the federal appeals court was able to see through this, and while it didn’t directly accuse the Buccaneers of manipulating their books, the court stated that it saw no reason for the organization to switch accounting practices.
“The team . . . never submitted financial statements or other evidence showing that it made and implemented this accounting decision during 2011 (as opposed to later when it learned of the requirements for a Deepwater Horizon claim),” the court wrote. “The only dated financial statements have an ‘as of’ date of October 2014.”
The Buccaneers later said they made the accounting changes because the league asked them to, but there is no record of the the NFL Ventures payment in their accounting books for 2011. The court noted that, as well.
“So the dispute comes down to the legitimacy of the lockout justification. The Buccaneers fail to support it as a valid reason to deviate from its prior practice. The team relies solely on the affidavit of its controller and repeatedly misrepresents it as recounting a directive from the NFL that teams should book NFL Ventures revenue during the offseason.”
When asked for a statement by ProFootballTalk on the nature of the suit, the team remained tight-lipped.
“We have a long-established policy of refraining from publicly commenting on legal matters,” Bucs spokesman Nelson Luis told PFT in a text message.
While Tampa Bay isn’t the only sports team looking for compensation for the oil spill, the court seems to be keeping an eye out for any manipulation and sneakiness coming from businesses and organizations looking for that.