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NFL Ticket Prices Don’t Cool Fan Fervor

NFL Ticket Prices Don’t Cool Fan Fervor

Discussed with equal vigor in boardrooms and bars and among fans and casual viewers alike, NFL ticket prices are an exciting example of economics in work. The National Football League, home to ‘America’s Game’, has enjoyed immense success since the merger of the American Football League into the NFL in 1969. The league consists of thirty-two teams in two conferences with each conference then divided into three divisions with either four or five teams in each division. The teams span a range of what’s referred to as large-market, mid-market, and small-market cities; the demographics of the cities determine which market description applies and roughly equates to a combination of population and television coverage.

At the top of the heap are the large-market teams such the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, New York Jets, and Chicago Bears: These teams average among the highest in terms of ‘average ticket price’; the average of all available ticket prices for their home stadiums. For the 2007-08 NFL season the Patriots had the highest overall average at just a hair under $118 per ticket; this average price is more than $27 higher than the second most expensive average ticket which belongs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Not surprisingly, the Patriots and Buccaneers had the highest percentage increase from the 2006-07 Season as each team’s average price increased by more than 24%. The Bears have the third-highest average price at $88.33, followed by the Giants at $88.06, the Jets at $86.99, and the Cowboys at $84.12. By contrast, the NFL average for the 2007-08 season was $72.20. Mid and small-market teams such as the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, and Buffalo Bills had the lowest average price. Each team’s average ticket price comes in below $60 with the Bills at just $51.24.

Another measure of NFL ticket prices are the average premium ticket price. Premium ticket prices are a bit harder to define as these tickets may include luxury seating, preferred parking, and other amenities which vary greatly from team to team and stadium to stadium. Measured against this metric, the Patriots still come out on top with an average premium ticket price of $567. The Jets are a distant second at $390 and the Bills, with the lowest average ‘regular’ ticket price have an average premium price at $160.

Perhaps the best overall measure is based on the Fan Cost Index (FCI), a measure that consists of of four average tickets, two beers, four soft drinks, four hot dogs, parking for one car, two game programs, and two adult-sized caps. This measure is more indicative of a total spend at a NFL game and, once again, the New England Patriots top the scales at $596 for a family of four. The Chicago Bears, in keeping with their second-place finish behind the Patriots in the ‘average’ ticket price, are second with an FCI of $484. The NFL average FCI is just under $400 for a family of four.

NFL ticket prices have increased roughly 5% year over year but twenty-three teams announced price freezes for the 2008-09 year. Most of the teams who have announced ticket prices have done so to support new infrastructure initiatives or other expenses related to their teams. While fans will continue to debate their relative worth, it’s clear NFL tickets will continue to sell.

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