There are times throughout the season where a player might find out that he has been traded. That means that he will need to get to a new city as quickly as possible, and with that uproot his life, and his family’s life if he has one. Teams are expected to help with relocation costs for players when this happens. The amount that each organization is required to cover varies across different professional sports leagues. Looking specifically at the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB) and Major League Soccer (MLS), the differences are outlined in each leagues Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). While the NFL, NBA and MLB are very lucrative organizations, the MLS is newer and has significantly less money as an organization, so it is interesting to look at how they hold up compared to some of the other leagues.
For the NFL, these relocation costs are covered under Article 36. These costs will be provided to any “veteran player, who has been traded, claimed, assigned to an expansion allocation or a member of a Club which relocates to a different home city” or a “rookie player who is traded or claimed after the start of the regular season.” In the case of the NFL, it is up to the player to contact the appropriate Club official and then allow the Club to designate the moving company. If the player feels the need, they can then get two more counter estimates, by which point the Club will determine which company to use. The player will the receive “reimbursement of his actual, ordinary and reasonable moving expenses, including travel expenses for player and his immediate family.” The Club will not cover the loss or damage of any property.
In Article III, the NBA outlines what they will cover in terms of moving expenses, as well as hotel accommodations and housing cost reimbursements. It is the “Team’s obligation to reimburse a player for ‘reasonable’ expenses related to the assignment of a Player Contract from one Team to another…shall extend to the reimbursement of actual expenses incurred by such player in moving to the home territory of his new Team.” Before doing anything relating to moving, the player must consult with the team about his move and provide the Team with written estimates of moving companies. Within ten days, the Team will either agree to the terms or create an alternative arrangement. The NBA also emphasizes that it will only cover “reasonable” moving expenses. For the NBA, this means only moving one car, or up to two cars if the player is married. Further, the Team will cover hotel costs for the player for up to forty-six days in their new city. Lastly, the Team will cover expenses from the previous city if the player is legally obligated to owe money on his living quarters. The payments, however, will not exceed $4,500 per month and they will only be covered for up to three months.
The MLB does something a little bit different than the NFL and NBA do. Under Article VIII, the MLB determines a set amount that they will pay each Player if they are assigned from one Major League Club to another Major League Club. The amount that a Club will cover varies based on the distance in which the Player will have to travel from his old Club to his new Club. A Player will receive $850 for 1,000 air miles or less; $1,150 if the distance is greater than 1,000 air miles, but less than 2,000 air miles; and $1,450 if the distance between Clubs is greater than 2,000 miles. The Player will see this money immediately upon assignment to a new Club. The Player will not receive relocation money if the club they are assigned to is within 50 miles of the assignor Club’s home city. Within two years of reassignment, the Player can be reimbursed for “the reasonable and actual moving expenses of the Player and his immediate family resulting therefrom, including first-class jet air transportation for the Player and his immediate family; provided that, if the Player relocates more than one year from the date of the assignment, the Player must relocate in the assignee Club’s home city and the Player must still be playing for the assignee Club.”
Lastly, the MLS has their own relocation expenses, found under Section 10.11. For those players who have been traded or reassigned, they will receive reimbursement for all reasonable and necessary items, but there must be documentation. If a “Player is legally obligated to make such payments at his prior residence, provided that the obligation to pay such reimbursement shall not exceed a three (3) month reimbursement period and shall be limited to a total reimbursement of $13,000.” Moreover, housing expenses and per diem will be covered for up to twenty-one days, while a rental car or car transportation services will be covered for up to ten days. Two round-trip tickets will be covered for the Player back to his prior city, and round-trip tickets will be covered for the Player’s immediate family. The Player will also receive a blanket $3,000 for any other additional needs.
Both the NBA and MLS will cover a similar amount of reimbursement for expenses they might owe on rent or a mortgage at their home in their old city. The NBA covers up to $13,500 for three months and the MLS covers up to $13,000 over the same period of three months. This is reasonable considering it can take up to a few months to sell a home, and it is not always easy to get out of a lease for an apartment. The NBA and MLS are also the only two leagues to specify that they will cover a certain amount of hotel night accommodations for the Player when he is relocated.
It is important for the Teams or Clubs to cover some of these expenses for Players. There are times where a player gets traded and needs to be at practice for their new Team or Club the next day. In these instances, they are unable to pack up their homes and lives within 24-hours so certain accommodations should be accounted for.