SBJ/Jan. 27-Feb. 2, 2014/Franchises

Lions’ variable pricing will be a first for NFL

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The Detroit Lions are expected today to unveil a pricing plan for 2014 that will make them the first NFL team to implement variable ticket pricing for the regular season and that slashes the price of tickets for their preseason games by 70 percent.

The NFL for years has been hit with criticism over tickets for preseason games not being marked down from regular-season prices. As for variable pricing, the NBA, NHL and MLB all have teams that offer different prices for individual game tickets based on the perceived marketability of the opponent, but teams in those leagues have much more ticket inventory to sell each year than NFL clubs — NBA and NHL teams with 41 home dates each, and MLB clubs with 81 dates, compared with NFL teams having only eight regular-season games apiece.

The NFL, though, has struggled in recent years with providing value to fans for attending games compared with the at-home entertainment experience. The league has focused on offering amenities to fans, and it recently began discussions about implementing variable ticket pricing.

Detroit becomes the first team to act on those talks.

For 2014, the Lions will split their eight regular-season home games into premium and nonpremium levels, along with dropping the price of their two preseason games by 70 percent. The Lions’ home schedule next season features division opponents Chicago, Green Bay and Minnesota, along with Buffalo, Miami, New Orleans, Tampa Bay and the New York Giants. Game dates have not yet been set.

A team spokesman said the Lions’ annual Thanksgiving Day game and the game against New Orleans would fall into the premium category, but he did not offer what the other two premium games would be or what the price discrepancy between the tiers would be.

“Data from the secondary market has equipped us to make more educated and fair pricing decisions based on anticipated demand,” said Todd Lambert, vice president of ticketing and suite sales.

The Lions’ season-ticket prices next season are increasing 8.2 percent compared with 2013, rising to $83.37 per game.

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