CINCINNATI OH - AUGUST 15: A Cincinnati Bengals fan cheers during the preseason game against the Denver Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium on August 15 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. The Bengals won 33-24. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
When we ran a twitter flash poll (that actually sounded alright in my head) in early December, respondents blamed ticket prices and the comforts of watching from home, answering the question why they're not going to the stadium. Appearing somewhat naive for a time, though despondency granting awareness, the NFL forecasted an unrealized future that teams may struggle to sell out their games in the near future. They promise a better stadium experience while allowing teams to lessen their capacity so home games have a greater chance of selling out.
Good for them. Finally realizing a problem after witnessing a 4.5 percent decrease in attendance in the past five seasons, and being proactive enough to worry about it is a good step to ensure the worst possible scenario (losing money) doesn't come to pass. Though we're not sure if this is really a battle that the league can win because the focus of their worry appears slightly off-balanced and short-sighted.
Will introducing greater availability for a wireless connection encourage you to go to the games? Sure you'll want to take pictures, post them on Facebook, read updates of other games or (god forbid) your fantasy football teams (though we fully endorse our awesome fans at the games to post within the open threads). Before this year were you sitting at your house, deciding not to head to Paul Brown Stadium because the connection through your smart phone lacks a quality connection?
Making the stadium louder for a grander college atmosphere? We're not kids. Many of us have old brittle bones with 40-60 hours jobs waiting for us on Monday. Score a touchdown and we'll lose our minds. Force the opposing offense into a third-and-long situation, and Grandma Kirkendall curses like a sailor at the pretty eyebrows of Joe Flacco. Otherwise between timeouts or the lull on first down following a punt doesn't necessarily invite one to jump, shout or stomp foot. And if the intention is to play music louder, then forget about it. There's only so much 80s rock or mainstream music we can handle.
And you can watch the HD replays at home; there's no greater benefit at the stadium than at home on that. In fact nothing within what the league proposes to enhance the experience can't be found at home. You can watch the game with Guns 'N Roses playing at ear-popping decibels while monitoring your fantasy teams from a vastly more powerful computer.
Again. Thanks for the effort but do any of those proposals really help. Shall we mention that part where the team, therefore Hamilton county would be responsible for the stadium improvements? What. You thought the league would give the Bengals free shit?
Throughout the season last year we argued (here and here) that it wasn't boycotts, nor a direct relation to the depressing economy -- though the economy has indirect consequences. It's the ticket prices to an event with an atmosphere that most outright refuse to take their own children to; something that the league doesn't factor within their bottom line of a quality and enhanced stadium experience.
According to the Fan Cost Index in 2011, the average cost for a single NFL fan to buy a ticket with the cost for parking, a beer and a hot dog is $115.08. A single Bengals fan going to a game at Paul Brown Stadium, also buying a ticket, paying for parking while having a single beer (who has just one?) and a hot dog pays less than the league average, roughly at $105.29.
Anyway. We're not sure if the league can dictate ticket prices; we're going to say teams have complete authority on that charge. With that being the more logical conclusion, it's within the control of the teams to find ways to ensure that their stadiums sellout, while factoring the league's relaxation on previous mandates.
Sure. We're happy that the league wants to do more for our experience, enabling people at the games and at home to have a great experience watching football.
However it wasn't the league that reduced ticket prices this year in Cincinnati. It was the Cincinnati Bengals, who witnessed a nine-win playoff team fail to sell out six of their eight home games last season. In response to the depression of cash being filtered into a bottomless outhouse (aka empty seats), the front office decided to lower ticket prices within cheaper sections of Paul Brown Stadium. And unsurprisingly, they've already sold many of those sections out for the upcoming 2012 season.
Rarely do we suggest that the NFL should take a page out of the Cincinnati Bengals handbook. And we're not certain that the team will sell out every game in 2012. But ticket prices are perhaps the highest persuasion for fans to stay at home or go to the games. Some will cite their personal boycott of Mike Brown. Others simply like watching it from home, thanks to the wife's perform scented bathroom and a toilet with the consistency of white porcelain -- and only white porcelain. Parking is easier at home, so is the path to the house's consession stand.