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2 teams lower ticket prices (1 Viewer)



TICKETS BY TEAM: Is your favorite team raising prices?

While modest increases typically range from 3% to 7%, many are coupled with decreases and new tiers of pricing. Two struggling teams in hard-hit markets — the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars— reduced prices without any increases.

Major League Baseball, in contrast, had an average ticket price increase of 1.7% this season.

This year, NFL teams don't have a salary cap or salary floor ($107.7 million in 2009), allowing more cost-cutting leeway. The league generated nearly $9 billion in 2009.

"This may be just another way to brace for the possibility of a work stoppage," said Andrew Brandt, a former NFL executive and agent who writes about business issues for NationalFootballPost.com. "When you raise prices, you have to be able to respond to the questions: Why? And why now?"

Sports franchise consultant Marc Ganis thought the trend reflects an improving economy.

"This is not related to the labor issue," said Ganis, president of Sportscorp, Ltd. "It's related to what the market will bear and the economy."

Minnesota Vikings president Mark Wilf acknowledged risks, including public perception. Minnesota upped the tag on 85% of tickets at the league's fourth-smallest venue, but also maintained the NFL's lowest-priced seat: $15.

Said Wilf, "We're sensitive to the economy and our fans, while balancing the need to be competitive."

Delicate balance to raise tickets

Raising ticket prices is the fourth-and-1 decision of NFL economics that every team in the league grapples with at various times.

"They do it very carefully, to make sure they keep those stadiums full and sell tickets," said Goodell. "You can increase ticket prices, but does it reduce the number of people who buy them and your overall revenue? (If so), that's not a very smart decision.

"They're trying to find the right balance. It's not an exact science."

The Miami Dolphins, for example, have raised prices for the first time in three years, increasing revenue on 56% of general admission seats — including the most desirable lower-level seats between the 20-yard lines that have premium value on the secondary market. Yet they have also decreased or left flat 44% of tickets (about 25,000) and created six new pricing categories that range from $34 to $120.

"We looked at it holistically," said George Torres, the Dolphins' marketing director. "We re-scaled the house according to demand, but the other part was to enhance the benefits for the season ticket packages."

In addition to discount rates as much as 25% off single-game prices, the Dolphins are providing handheld mobile devices to season ticket-holders that are capable of displaying replays, statistics and other content. That amenity is at the forefront of thinking throughout the league that more must be done to enhance the stadium experience.

"We're competing against living rooms with big plasma TVs," Torres says. "But we think there's nothing like the live experience."

Increased pricing tiers reflect another trend.

"It's an opportunity to give customers different price points to choose from," explained Wilf.

"There's a demand at all levels that we try to accommodate."

Raising ticket prices is more sensitive for teams in the midst of efforts to secure taxpayer support for new stadiums, such as the Vikings, San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers.

"That creates some issues," Wilf said. "On the other hand, we're trying to put a very competitive team on the field."

Generally, the increases were modest. The Vikings' increase averaged 3%, while at the higher end of increases the Houston Texans went up 6.67% and the Pittsburgh Steelers' across-the-board increase was about 7%.

Industry experts don't consider the increases large enough to fuel backlash. Teams typically raise prices about every three years.

"With only 10 games (including preseason), fans are far less price-sensitive in the NFL, compared to other sports," said Ganis. "A 5% increase in the NFL doesn't generate as much as 5% does in the NBA or in Major League Baseball, because of the number of games."

Brandt said fans have come to expect increases at various intervals.

"When I was with Green Bay," Brandt said, "it seems like we raised ticket prices every other year. In explaining it, you always want to play the card that it's all about competition."

Then again, some teams can't afford to raise prices. Not now.

That explains why the Jacksonville Jaguars— one of three teams to average less than 50,000 for home games in 2009 — haven't just cut prices in an effort to boost sales. They are also offering interest-free payment plans, hoping for a fourth-and-1 conversion.



• Arizona Cardinals, University of Phoenix Stadium (65,000): Increase: Yes. Price range: $25-$112.50 Note: Raised prices on some seats, but also lowered tag by $15 on 2,300 seats to increase inventory on lowest-priced ($25) seats.

• Atlanta Falcons, Georgia Dome (71,228): Increase: Yes. Price range: $55-$125 Note: Raised prices on 26,000 seats while lowering tag on 6,800 seats.

• Baltimore Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium (71,008): Increase: No. Price range: $55-$135 Note: Have typically raised ticket prices every other year.

• Buffalo Bills, Ralph Wilson Stadium (73,967): Increase: Yes. Price range: $40-$80 Note: Excluding the one home game in Toronto, Bills season ticket average ($59.19) is more than $15 less than NFL average.

• Carolina Panthers, Bank of America Stadium (73,504): Increase: Yes. Price range: $32-$97 Note: About 95% of seats increased, from $1 to $9, depending on location.

• Chicago Bears, Soldier Field (61,500): Increase: Yes. Price range: $68-$125 Note: About 25% of seats remained flat, while other non-club seats had increases ranging from $2 to $17.

• Cincinnati Bengals, Paul Brown Stadium (65,515): Increase: Yes. Price range: $60-$85 Note: Modest increase raised prices $1 per ticket in canopy and second-level end zone levels, $3 per seat in field level and convertible club areas.

• Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Browns Stadium (73,300): Increase: No. Price range: $32-85. Note: Club offering season tickets for first time in family-friendly, alcohol-free family zone.

• Dallas Cowboys, Cowboys Stadium (85,000-105,000): Increase: No. Price range: $75-$239. Note: Standing-room "Party Pass" tickets can also be had for $29.

• Denver Broncos, Invesco Field at Mile High (76,125): Increase: No. Price range: $45-$125. Note: Broncos lowered club seats about 21% and created new alcohol-free family zone.

• Detroit Lions, Ford Field (64,500): Increase: No. Price range: $30-$140. Note: With 2-30 mark over past two years, Lions give fans a break: Lower prices on 19,000 season tickets

• Green Bay Packers, Lambeau Field (72,928): Increase: Yes. Price range: $67-$83. Note: First increase since 2007, averaging $9 per ticket. But still one of NFL's best values with lower-bowl seats between the 20s at $83.

• Houston Texans, Reliant Stadium (71,054): Increase: Yes. Price range: $30-$120. Note: Average ticket of $71.86 is 6.67% higher than '09, but Texans (carrying 80-game sellout streak) still rank in lower half among NFL teams.

• Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium (63,000): Increase: Yes. Price range: $38-$126. Note: After roughly 90% of prices remained flat in '09, tickets are up $4-$7 per seat in '10.

• Jacksonville Jaguars, Jacksonville Municipal Stadium (67,164): Increase: No. Price range: $30-$98. Note: After averaging just 49,652 per game in '09, Jags dropped upper deck season tickets to $300 from $390 and now offer interest-free payment plans.

• Kansas City Chiefs, Arrowhead Stadium (76,416): Increase: No. Price range: $30-$145. Note: Despite refurbishing stadium, Chiefs non-premium tickets have decreased 7.5% over 3 years, now averaging $71.29 per seat vs. $77.09 in '08.

• Miami Dolphins, Sun Life Stadium (75,192): Increase: Yes. Price range: $34-$120. Note: 44% of seats remained flat or decreased in cost, restructured price scaling offers six new seating categories.

• Minnesota Vikings, Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (64,121): Increase: Yes. Price range: $15-$143. Note: Despite raising prices on some seats for second time in three seasons, Vikes still have the NFL's lowest-priced ticket: $15.

• New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium (68,756): Increase: No. Price range: $65-$169. Note: Didn't raise prices in 2009 — and already project that prices will remain flat in 2011.

• New Orleans Saints, Louisiana Superdome (68,000): Increase: Yes. Price range: $25-$190. Note: Increase is $10 or less per game for more than half of season tickets.

• New York Giants, New Meadowlands Stadium (82,500): Increase: Yes. Price range: $85-$160. Note: In addition to cost of tickets, PSLs for new stadium range from $1,000 to $20,000

• New York Jets, New Meadowlands Stadium (82,500): Increase: Yes. Price range: $95-$150. Note: New home underscores demand for premium seating: Jets have 10,000 club seats, versus 500 in their old stadium.

• Oakland Raiders, Oakland Coliseum (63,132): Increase: No. Price range: $26-$151. Note: Hosted smallest NFL crowd in '09 (34,112 vs. Cincinnati) and had NFL's lowest avg. attendance (44,285).

• Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field (69,144): Increase: No. Price range: $70-$95. Note: Linc can handle big overflow crowd for Donovan McNabb's return on Oct. 3, with standing-room tickets selling for $55.

• Pittsburgh Steelers, Heinz Field (65,050): Increase: Yes. Price range: $64-$98. Note: Prices increased about 7% across the board.

• St. Louis Rams, Edward Jones Dome (66,000): Increase: No. Price range: $25-$140. Note: With 6-42 record over past 3 years, Rams slashed prices on approximately two-thirds of seats.

• San Diego Chargers, Qualcomm Stadium (70,000): Increase: No. Price range: $54-$98. Note: Despite team's success (and desire for new stadium), Chargers repeatedly flirted with home-game blackouts in '09.

• San Francisco 49ers, Candlestick Park (69,732): Increase: Yes. Price range: $29-$149. Note: Average season ticket ($74) is up 4%, although price on roughly 1/3 of seats decreased or were unchanged.

• Seattle Seahawks, Qwest Field (67,000): Increase: Yes. Price range: $52-$110. Note: Average price increase was about 3%. Waiting list of approximately 10,000 dates to 2006, when season tickets were cut off at 61,000.

• Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Raymond James Stadium (65,908): Increase: No. Price range: $25-$115. Note: New option in 2010: Youth Season Tickets, for 16-and-under crowd, at $25 per game.

• Tennessee Titans, LP Field (69,143): Increase: Yes. Price range: $45-$85. Note: Across the board $2 increase on tickets was passed along as new city ticket tax of $2 is instituted this year.

• Washington Redskins, FedEx Field (91,704): Increase: No. Price range: $29-$99. Note: Topped Forbes list for NFL revenue in '09 with $345M, but haven't raised general admission prices at NFL's largest venue since 2006.


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