The League

Dan Levy
Sports Media Guru

Dan Levy

The host of On the DL with new episodes every weekday.

Lower Everything Prices


A few months ago we talked in this space about the pay cuts several members of the NFL offices were taking, most notably the percentage taken by commissioner Roger Goodell (and how it compared to the percentage taken by the people who were laid off -- 100%).

Since then, the economy hasn't gotten any better. In fact, for many people times are worse than ever. Fans can't afford the luxury of going to a football game anymore. And frankly, that's what sports is...a luxury. We get to enjoy Sundays in the fall because we bust our collective humps during the week at work. Loverboy was quite the sage.

But if I can't afford to put food on my plate, how can I expect to pay the ridiculous prices at a stadium? Think about how much a game costs for the average fan. Parking is $10-20 depending on how far you want to walk. A case of beer and snacks to tailgate is another $20. Let's say a cheap ticket costs you $60 bucks for a seat. You've already spent $100 dollars and you haven't gotten to your section yet.

Food, drink and a giant foam finger later and you're looking at close to $150 to go to a football game. Do that 10 times a year (don't forget that things aren't cheaper in the preseason) and you've spent more money than a month's mortgage. And in this climate, the mortgage is clearly more important.

So are diapers. And food. And all the other things people need to buy to get their families by (full disclosure: I do have a Sunday season ticket plan for the Phillies this season). Times are hard and recreational activities are always the first to go.

So should NFL teams reduce ticket prices? Yes. Certainly they should. But more than the ticket prices, they should lower the parking. They should lower the concessions. Nobody should have to spend eight dollars for a cold ball-park hamburger. A side order of fries should not cost $5.75. Fries! They usually come for free with your meal, but at a stadium they cost almost as much as most people in this country make an hour.

If teams want to make concession money back after lowering the food prices, they should incorporate a beat the clock promotion for beer. Seriously, start beer before the game at $5.00. Every five minutes off the game clock raise the price another $.75. By the end of the first quarter, a beer would still only be $7.75. By halftime you're looking at an $10.00 brew. After three quarters it'll cost you $12.25 and if you're dumb enough to try and buy a beer on your way out of the stadium that frothy pilsner would cost you a cool $14.50... and your keys.

But in all seriousness, prices have gotten out of control. It's past the point where the average fan can take a family of four to a game. Even without food inside the park a family of four can't see a game for less than $250.

That's just not right.

By Dan Levy  |  May 1, 2009; 11:20 AM ET  | Category:  Dan Levy , NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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we have this same problem hear in australia. but there is a solution to it>>we go to small town footy games.where you park your car round the field pull a six pack out ,swear at the ump ,and watch a far better game .and the best thing is it costs us about $30 for the day for a family of 4.
these days they would have to pay me to go to the city to see a game .cheers nfrom oz

Posted by: nomi21 | May 4, 2009 3:41 AM

This article nails the heart of the matter. It's NOT just ticket prices (which are absurd). It's everything else.

If Dan Snyder thought he could get away with pay toilets, add on a "stadium cleaning" fee, and charge $5 to have the usher help you find your seat, you can be sure Jack Kent Cooke Stadium would have pay toilets, a "stadium cleaning" fee and all ushers would have credit card authorization devices.

If Snyder knew one-thousandth as much about football as he knows about fleecing his customers the team MIGHT not suck.

Posted by: kemp13 | May 4, 2009 7:59 AM

Is it my immagination, or does it cost MUCH MORE to attend a Redskins game?

The tix are $100 each, the parking is $35, and the food and drinks are more.

And, since all the tickets are season ticket, you're forced to pay the same for the lame pre-season.

The author is correct, the prices are high, but they're even higher if you're a Redskins fan.

Posted by: postfan1 | May 4, 2009 8:18 AM

You know, there's a real simple way out of this problem. Go to a bar with Redskins fans and watch the game there. Park for free, don't get rained on, get on the road in minutes after the game's over, and GOOD beer costs half as much as swill in the park. Plus if the team sucks, you can turn to a better game. See, I just saved you $300. :-)

Posted by: Section406 | May 4, 2009 8:52 AM

Did you see what the Washington Freedom women's soccer is charging? All of pro sports is seriously overpriced. You can find affordable and sometimes free admission to local college campuses, where the competition (Navy lacrosse, American basketball, George Mason baseball) is exciting and enjoyable.

I also argue that if you should stay home and find the joy of playing games yourself with your kids, neighors, pick-up hoops with friends. Its free, healthy and at the end of a good game, you remember why you love sports to begin with!

Posted by: Hoops44 | May 4, 2009 9:31 AM

The problem with big league sports in America is that they are businesses that try to market themselves as vectors for community cohesiveness.

Gameday activities have become rituals for fans, and whether they attend the contests in person or watch them on television, they often wear (pricy) team gear in support. Few other businesses have been wily enough to get consumers actually to pay for wearing their advertisements.

Unfortunately, there is no lemon law for pro sports. If I buy a car that turns out to be crummy, I can return it to the dealer within a specified amount of time. If, however, I lay down money to watch a pro sports team, I'm stuck with the cost, no matter how poorly the team plays.

Too bad home teams don't allow fans to turn in their tickets for at least a partial refund at halftime or in the fifth inning if the team is getting slaughtered. Something like that might give teams incentive to play a bit better.

Also, I've never seen a sports columnist with enough stones to address one of my big complaints: Teams that mail it in during "meaningless" games at the end of the season. For example, if a team in the NBA has already secured a playoff spot and would gain nothing by winning its last game, it will often sit its starters.

Fine, but when we fans buy the tickets for the game earlier in the season, it is with the rational expectation that the team will put its best product on the court. If you buy a ticket for "Crank: High Voltage" and yet when the theater lights dim, you see the opening credits for "Beaches," you'd be rightly miffed.

It's no different than if you lay down your money to take your kid to see the Cavaliers, and yet Lebron sits out the entire contest.

Posted by: castanea | May 4, 2009 10:13 AM

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