The League

Peter Schaffer
NFL Agent

Peter Schaffer

Agent and professor of sports law

Price Is Right

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As my grandfather once told me, he had read so much about the bad effects of drinking, smoking and eating that he decided to give up reading.

The same seems to be true of our current economic conditions. It seems that the more our 24-hour news media cycles continue to harp on the economic catastrophe the worse the catastrophe becomes. Almost a self fulfilling prophecy. I am no economist and don't pretend to be one but cutting prices in a successful business operation and thus diminishing its ability to succeed and profit does not seem an appropriate response to the recession. This concept only will further perpetuate the over-reacting pessimistic attitudes of our country, driving it backwards.

The Economy will only get better if people regain confidence in our system and way of life -- a capitalistic system that correspondingly spends money, investigates businesses, buys goods and services, and enjoys the fruits of being part of the greatest society in the history of mankind.

From all appearances, without taking a political side, it appears that one of the major benefits of the new Obama administration over its first 100 days is a recreation in the citizens of confidence, in our economy and in Americans as a people. This in and of itself might not cure the recession but at least it seems to have started the nation back on the road to recovery. If the NFL reduces its prices it will actually have the opposite effect on the economy.

The reality is that the NFL is still the best bargain for sports entertainment pricing of all of the major sports and the best television sport. Tickets and a day at the game in the NFL is considerably less that than its brethren of baseball, basketball and hockey. Further, with a 16-game schedule as opposed to an 81 or 162, season tickets are roughly one eighth the price of the other sports. Also, the NFL is the greatest television sport to watch and the most watched of all television sports.

Americans may be cutting back on expensive vacations, second homes, frivolous sports cars and steak diners, but a Sunday afternoon BBQ at home with friends in front of the television watching the likes of Manning, Brady, Peterson etc. is still a viable option as long as the NFL provides and maintains a high-level of entertainment on free television.

While logic might dictate that the NFL has some responsibility to assist the nation as some part of the other stimulus packages that seem to be prevalent in our country lately, a reduction in ticket prices is not the answer. The NFL's necessary economic reaction to the recession should only occur if the NFL sees a real reduction in paid
attendance. At that time supply and demand dictates a reduction in prices however, barring such a decline, reducing ticket prices would appear to be a meaningless and unrelated response to other economic conditions outside of the control of the greatest professional sport of our time, and will further diminish the confidence of the citizens in our society, economy and ability to recover.

By Peter Schaffer  |  May 1, 2009; 11:10 AM ET  | Category:  NFL , Peter Schaffer Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Not to mention that reduced gate receipts would result in a reduction of TR and thus the player pie would shrink, EEEEK!!! Touché…just kidding…nice piece. You could’ve skipped the Obama reference though!

Posted by: JimBeam2 | May 1, 2009 2:05 PM

Laugh, laugh, wink, wink...of course Schaffer wants to see ticket prices, and player salaries, kept at exhorbitant levels: he's a sports agent and has a very vested interest in seeing ever inflated salaries, and agent commissions, continue to be paid for overrated sports prima donnas.

His example just illustrates the point: if player salaries, and ticket prices, weren't so outrageous, people wouldn't have to watch NFL games at home but could more readily attend games in person. Would players really play less well if paid, say, half as much as they are today...not likely. Players judge themselves on what others are paid.

And cutting salaries to more realistic levels would have no impact on the overall economy...as Schaffer says, he is no economist, except in his own self-interest. His comments about this "great nation" are totally irrelevant to the question.

Posted by: Rigged | May 4, 2009 3:47 AM

Of course it depends.

What is the market for tickets going to be like this Fall?

Maybe ticket buyers across the nation are immune to the effects of a recession; however, at a certain point, I'd imagine that in many markets owners will consider cutting prices in order to get some return on unsold tickets. The NFL won't cut ticket prices as a matter of charity -- however, if there are many unsold seats going into the season I wouldn't be surprised to see NFL teams cut prices.

The biggest challenge will be if people trade out of more expensive seats for less expensive ones -- which would leave high margin seats and luxury boxes vacant. Franchises would have to drop prices in order to salvage some of the revenue. Wouldn't be surprised to see this happen in some markets this season.

Posted by: JPRS | May 4, 2009 6:57 AM

"The reality is that the NFL is still the best bargain for sports entertainment pricing of all of the major sports"

Wow - a sports agent really thinks this? Apparently he's never been to a baseball, hockey, or basketball game - all of which have significantly lower ticket prices (except for the relatively low number of seats set aside for very wealthy people, such as sports agents).

Nah - nothing self-serving about this one!

Posted by: kemp13 | May 4, 2009 7:52 AM

Hit "submit" too soon.

Needless to say, lowering ticket prices would result in a reduction in revenue, and since player salaries are tied to revenue that would mean lower salaries and reduced fees to sports agents.

Posted by: kemp13 | May 4, 2009 7:54 AM

What do you expect from a sports agent?

Peter Schaffer obviously never took a math class, or bought redskins season tickets.

At $100 per seat per game, plus exhorbitant prices for drinks, food, and parking, the claim of "relative bargain" is clearly exaggerated. It costs $500-$600 for a family of four to go to a game, and that's for the upper level!

His theory applies only if one watches on TV, which has nothing to do with ticket prices.

Posted by: postfan1 | May 4, 2009 8:09 AM

Oh, and my prior comment doesn't even include the season ticket TAX; the Redskins force you to pay the same price for the two preseason games, amounting to a 25% tax on the regular season games. Then PG County adds an additional 10% tax.

Hardly a bargain.

Posted by: postfan1 | May 4, 2009 8:13 AM

"Tickets and a day at the game in the NFL is considerably less that than (sic.) its brethren of baseball . . .."

What was Schaffer smoking when he wrote this? I go to baseball and football games every season and there is no way on earth that a football game is a better bargain than a baseball game. There are many good seats at the baseball games in any major league city that are less expensive than the worst seats at a professional football game, not to mention that you have 81 dates from which to choose, versus 8 Sundays. All of Schaffer's credibility goes right out the window in this one sentence.

Posted by: FrankinHouston | May 4, 2009 8:31 AM

Agree with JPRS - the NFL won't drop prices unil there are empty seats. I gave up my Redskins tickets years ago, tired of spending a lot of money for an inferior experience. Ticket sales will drop in 2010 if the 2009 resale market is lower.

Posted by: kirstenpaulson | May 4, 2009 9:00 AM

When you look at it from the NFL's position (owner's, player's & league), high prices are better overall. If many people stay away from the stadium, they instead watch the games on TV - giving the sport higher TV ratings. That correlates to higher advertising fees for the Networks which means they NFL can gouge them and DirectTV for more money.

They can probably get more money from the Neworks and DirectTV (although not as much as from the cable companies, but that's another rant/story about real corruption) than they'd lose from either lowering ticket prices or empty seats.

Posted by: MadiganT | May 4, 2009 10:04 AM

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