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SBD/January 6, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies
Bengals, Colts, Packers Eventually Sell Out Games, But Warning Bells Sound For NFL
Published January 6, 2014
LAGGING AT LAMBEAU: In Milwaukee, Bill Glauber reports yesterday's 49ers-Packers Wild Card game was "the seventh-coldest game at Lambeau Field." The thermometer at kickoff "hit 5 degrees, a 10-mile-an-hour wind out of the northwest making it feel like 10 below zero." Fans "were dressed for the occasion." Some "lugged in sleeping bags and blankets," while others "laid down bits of carpet and Styrofoam on the concrete." There were "some empty seats in the upper reaches of the stadium" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/6). Packers season-ticket holder Jerry Watson said that one reason the team's Wild Card game did not sell out as quickly as hoped is because the team this season "eliminated the refund option" that allowed fans their money back if they bought playoff tickets early and then the team did not make it. Watson: "I’ve got to pay for season tickets sometime, but I don’t want to have to pay that at the end of December when I can wait for the end of May. The interest isn’t much, but it’s my money, and I want it. They want it, too. So we butt heads. There were seven of us in here talking on Monday, and none of us had sent the money in." In N.Y., Pat Borzi noted another possible reason for the slow sales is the Packers "added about 7,000 seats to Lambeau." Watson: "The dumbest thing that the intelligent people who run that place ever did was add 8,000 seats. We’ve got a bunch of millworkers in this town. People just don’t have the money" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/5). ESPN’s Darren Rovell: “For the first time ever, they said you have to give us a credit-card payment for all of the games, and you cannot get a refund -- it’ll be credited to your 2014 season tickets. In blue-collar Green Bay, that means something.” Former Packers exec and ESPN business analyst Andrew Brandt said of the ticket-refund program, “It does seem (to be) a change. Again, a more business approach than the family approach that Green Bay has been known for. But that’s the NFL right now” ("Outside The Lines," ESPN2, 1/3).
COLTS CITE SHORT WINDOW: In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz wrote of the three teams struggling to sell out, "It's an embarrassment for the NFL, which continues to handle postseason tickets in a way that makes it too difficult to sell out stadiums for the country's most beloved and popular sport." The NFL "overprices playoff tickets ... and leaves fans with too little time to get themselves together in order to make a purchase." Colts VP/Ticket Operations & Guest Services Larry Hall said, "This is what the league wanted: a 17th week that meant so much to so many teams. The problem is, we didn't know until halftime of the Sunday night game who we were playing and what date and time." Kravitz reported, "One issue I heard from fans is that by Dec. 12, the Colts required season-ticket holders to purchase seats for all possible home playoff games, which in this case" included the Wild Card game and an "unlikely AFC Championship Game." That is "a lot of money to spend before Christmas." Sports have "got to be the only business where the consumer gets blamed for poor sales" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/4).