SBJ/20090907/SBJ In-Depth

Team-by-team look at ticket strategies

Team   New offseason ticketing initiatives Comments
Arizona Cardinals Modest price increases in lower bowl seats; value meals of $7 for kids and $9.75 for adults; individual tickets to Packers and Vikings games available only with purchase of two other designated games (including a preseason contest). Getting to the Super Bowl has its advantage as witnessed by the price increase and additional ticket requirements for high-profile games, but in recession-wracked Phoenix, the team still introduced three value meals for kids and one for adults.
Atlanta Falcons Froze or reduced prices on two-thirds of seats, increased the remainder slightly; added four-person customer service team for season-ticket holders; season-ticket holders meeting with owner, head coach and GM; new six-month payment plan. Even coming off a surprising playoff run behind rookie QB Matt Ryan, the team must work hard in the fickle Atlanta market.
Baltimore Ravens No new initiatives. Coming off an AFC Championship appearance, the team was one of the few in the league to raise prices, and still enjoyed a 99 percent renewal clip.
Buffalo Bills Froze ticket prices; free one-game parking pass for season-ticket renewals ($20 value); free car wash for online renewals; thank you cards for renewals including a 50th-season commemorative bumper sticker; teleconference for season-ticket holders with players. The Bills will have their third-best season for season tickets this year, around 54,000, fueled by some of the lowest prices in the NFL and the Terrell Owens signing.
Carolina Panthers Froze ticket prices; offered two-game packages for the first time, selling 5,300 such plans. Most Panthers tickets are spoken for by PSL owners, so much of the teams offseason focus was on sponsorship and suite sales.
Chicago Bears Froze ticket prices; thank you e-mails and videos to season-ticket holders; season tickets delivered to 20 customers personally by mascot and players; decal sent to all season-ticket holders; five season-ticket holders will be given pregame field passes per game; accepted credit cards for the first time. The team describes these moves as the natural evolution of its customer service efforts and not a reaction to the economy. Season-ticket renewals at 99 percent attest to that.
Cincinnati Bengals Froze ticket prices; deferred seat-license payments; season-ticket holder conference call with head coach and draft picks; new club-seat contracts reduced from the standard three years to two; digital billboards used in marketing. For a club known as a laggard in pushing sales, the economy has finally moved the Bengals into action, but continuing to sell out still is not a certainty.
Cleveland Browns Froze ticket prices; season-ticket holders who paid by certain dates were entered into contests for varying levels of prizes dependent on how early they paid, ranging from a Super Bowl trip to free parking. If even the Browns, one of the top draws in pro sports, feel the need to offer something extra to draw in renewals, then the economy really is an issue.
Dallas Cowboys The only team with a new stadium opening this year has been selling the venue for several years; the team says it has done little differently in response to the economy. While there has been some outcry in Dallas over ticket prices, the team remains one of the countrys top draws.
Denver Broncos Froze ticket prices; sold out months before the season; extended payment plans for season-ticket holders who requested them. The Broncos have no issues selling out, though club seats and suites have moved slower this offseason than in past years.
Detroit Lions* Generally froze ticket prices; first and so far only NFL team to offer an all-you-can-eat option, which is available to 5,500 season-ticket holders; season-ticket renewals offered $500-$1,000 discounts on Ford cars and given VIP cards entitling them to 20 percent off merchandise at Ford Field; two town hall meetings with season-ticket holders, and one with suite and club-seat holders; last 10 rows of upper deck in end zones named the Roar Zone and priced at $30 per game, 25 percent less than last year; reduced club-seat prices; season-ticket holders entitled to 20 percent off a suite. When statewide unemployment is at 15 percent and the team went 0-16 the season before, creativity is the name of the game.
Green Bay Packers Froze ticket prices for the second year in a row. If the Packers had trouble moving tickets, the league would be in some serious trouble.
Houston Texans The team could only cite sending cheerleaders to local malls more than in years past as a difference this offseason. The Texans, a leader in sales since coming into the league in 2002, raised ticket prices in the offseason.
Indianapolis Colts For group tickets of 100 or more for preseason games, each fan received a free pass to a water theme park; preseason ticket stubs also give the holder free entry into the NCAA Hall of Champions; froze ticket prices other than for 1,600 seats, which were increased from $44 to $54. The team is sold out for the regular season in its second year in its new stadium, so the focus was on the preseason, which sold more slowly in the down economy.
Jacksonville Jaguars Froze ticket prices; created roughly a dozen ticket packages, double that of a typical year; selling groups of four or more tickets that include a free meal; referral program gives season-ticket holders a chance to win sideline passes. The Jaguars are the poster child for ticket sales problems; despite these efforts, the team has already said it is unlikely to sell out any game.
Kansas City Chiefs Extended final payment date; offered a branded credit card for fans who needed to finance that last payment; added 3,000 more $250 season tickets, bringing the number to 5,000; a mixture of ticket price freezes, increases and decreases. The team began in the middle of last season to add cheaper tickets and value concession items, and expects to be sold out.
Miami Dolphins Lowered seat prices on a few thousand season tickets in the upper deck by up to 30 percent; directed a personalized video e-mail campaign at individual ticket prospects that helped generate 8,000 new season-ticket holders; extended payment plans for season-ticket holders. The Dolphins, under new owner Stephen Ross, have been busy adding glitz to the team to attract fans, so hard-core ticketing initiatives revolved largely around a viral marketing campaign, which has helped increase season-tickets sales from 46,000 last year to the low 50,000 range this season.
Minnesota Vikings Froze ticket prices; payment plan that allows season-ticket holders to make monthly, or even weekly, payments; season-ticket conference calls with head coach and executives; invited season-ticket holders to a state-of-the-Vikings town hall event. The team, in its outdated stadium, struggled before the economy cratered so the clubs task of selling tickets had been tough. Even with Brett Favre, a season sellout is not a certainty.
New England Patriots Froze ticket prices. The teams season-ticket renewal rate was a bit down from past years, at 95 percent compared to 98 percent, but with Tom Brady coming back and the teams history of success, moving tickets has not been a problem.
New Orleans Saints Froze ticket prices; sent handwritten thank-you notes to each of the 17,000 season-ticket holder accounts; started the selling before last season ended. The Saints have sold out again, reflecting lower-than-average prices, a good team and a new stadium deal that shows the team is staying in town for the foreseeable future.
New York Giants Froze ticket prices; added season-ticket holder staff to communicate better with fans; conference call with quarterback and GM drew 6,000 fans. Most of the teams offseason efforts were designed toward moving into the new stadium in 2010. The team was long ago sold out of season tickets for 2009.
New York Jets Froze ticket prices; first marketing campaign to move season tickets; recorded call from new head coach Rex Ryan to all season-ticket holders; pre-draft conference call with GM with premium-seat holders; half-season ticket; viral marketing campaign. Because of the economy, and season-ticket holders who left because of costs involved with seats in the new stadium opening in 2010, the Jets had a few thousand more tickets than usual available, but fully expect to sell out.
Oakland Raiders* Froze ticket prices; season-ticket holders receive 3 to 6 percent of the price of a season ticket for a referral; expanded rewards programs that allow season-ticket holders to earn points for food and merchandise; more value-added tickets that include food; youth groups buying tickets get discounts to other venues such as museums and the zoo; game-day travel discount for ticket holders taking Amtrak from Sacramento. The Raiders have often battled to sell out, and have underperformed on the field, so the team has a blizzard of initiatives.
Philadelphia Eagles No new initiatives. The team raised ticket prices 5 percent on 80 percent of its seats, renewing them at a 99 percent clip, and sold out its handful of individual game tickets in 10 minutes.
Pittsburgh Steelers Froze ticket prices. Winning a Super Bowl and being the Steelers has its advantages, even in a severe recession.
San Diego Chargers Instituted a longer payment plan; expanded the family seating section, thereby lowering prices on 1,000 seats to $48 a game from $63 (all other prices were frozen); held a stadium meeting for past season-ticket holders who did not renew; created two five-game packages; sent 50th anniversary decal to season-ticket holders. The Chargers play in an outdated stadium and have struggled in recent years to sell out some games, so the team is moving aggressively to ensure every seat is sold this season.
San Francisco 49ers Froze ticket prices; upgraded restaurants and added a hall of fame; hosted first state-of-the team address with head coach, owner and front office executives. The Niners are long removed from the glory years, a double whammy given their creaky, outmoded stadium. While the team hopes to cut a deal to build a stadium in Santa Clara, the earliest a transaction could occur would be next year.
St. Louis Rams* Froze ticket prices; offered a payment plan; sold three-game packages. For a team that went 5-27 the last two years and had three blackouts last year, ticketing initiatives have been relatively tame.
Seattle Seahawks Froze ticket prices. Many of the fan outreach initiatives other teams are employing, the Seahawks have done for years. The team says it will be sold out every game this year and had a more than 90 percent season-ticket renewal rate in the offseason.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Froze ticket prices; season-ticket holders now can do one-year contracts instead of the 10 years previously required; payment plans for tickets; partial packages for the first time; half-price tickets in certain sections for kids under 16. The Bucs have been seen by some as being in a cost-cutting mode, perhaps due to their owners debt tied to his ownership of Manchester United. So even though sellouts have not been a problem, the team is aggressively moving to keep fans happy.
Tennessee Titans No new initiatives. Individual game tickets sold out in hours, so the Titans are one of the fortunate few in the NFL to whistle by the economy and increase prices modestly.
Washington Redskins More leniency on extending payment plans. One of the top sellers in the NFL, the Redskins did little new in the offseason. For the fourth consecutive season, the team did not raise ticket prices.
* Team had blackout(s) in 2008
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