The poorly-run sports business

Jody Michael

Football has lots of diehard fans. When the NFL lockout ended July 25 as the players approved the owners’ new collective bargaining agreement, I scoured social media and found feelings of relief from both friends and strangers.

“Finally, give me football!” one of my Facebook friends posted. “I missed football,” was a prevalent expression on Twitter.

This makes little sense. Football never went away; it’s still the offseason. Aside from canceling the Hall of Fame Game between the Bears and Rams, this season will be just like any other.

For the other 30 teams, training camp wasn’t even going to open until July 27 or later, so we lost zero football during the lockout. It’s incorrect to say the lockout “finally” ended as if football was somehow taken away, because it wasn’t, but this is a good example of fans’ diehard nature.

Nonetheless, I’m glad the owners and players reached a desirable agreement. Owners now get a higher percentage of the revenues, but players will like the improved health benefits and that owners have a new minimum spending requirement.

Casual fans will just be thankful the season is intact. However, it’s unfortunate the new agreement didn’t throw an extra bone to the most important fans: the ticket-holders.

To buy season tickets, 14 NFL teams require fans to first purchase a personal seat license – an enormous fee just for the right to buy season tickets. Plus, teams still stupidly sell preseason tickets for the same price as regular-season tickets.

It’s unfair. However, those teams get away with it because people do buy personal seat licenses, and people do buy expensive preseason tickets.

This is a difficult choice for fans. Do you continue to buy tickets for love of the team and the game, or do you boycott in opposition, even if it hurts your team financially?

As a baseball fan first and foremost, I have the same problem with my favorite team, the Cleveland Indians.

I want to go to a lot of Indians games. Baseball’s popularity is diminishing, and I want to support the national pastime now more than ever. Besides, the Indians can’t afford great players without money, which they get from fans.

Despite that, baseball is too costly. Once I pay for a ticket, parking, concessions and the gasoline necessary for the trip, I’ve spent at least $40. That’s a lot. Besides, I can satiate my baseball hunger at an Akron Aeros game for half that – $5 tickets, half as long a drive and free city parking.

I’m obviously not alone. Even during this much-improved season, the Indians’ home games are averaging just 21,619 fans, not even half Progressive Field’s 43,441 capacity.

If your stadium has even one empty seat, you didn’t price the tickets properly. When half your stadium is consistently empty, that’s a problem. Clearly, the fans have spoken: tickets cost too much.

Sure, teams can sell overpriced tickets and personal seat licenses because their richer diehard fans are willing to pay for it. But middle- and lower-class fans can be diehards, too. Teams need fans in the stands for the ticket and concession revenue. So why aren’t teams making ticket prices friendly and fair to cater to all their passionate fans?

Jody Michael is a junior news major.Contact him at [email protected].