Season ticket holder loss after 2010 still hurting the Bengals

Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

The Bengals lost a significant portion of their season ticket holders after the 2010 season, which is still being felt today.

But I live in Scotland, I can't go to the game.

So you're not going to purchase a round-trip flight to Cincinnati to go to a Bengals game? Stinking bandwagon fan that won't support the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium to sell out the stadium. Seriously. No, no. I don't want to go to the game myself; I love my comfortable couch, cheep beer, gusty heater and 50-inch High Definition television. HOW DARE YOU!

"Has anyone heard if this pathetic fan base has managed to buy the last 2,000 tickets for this weekend yet?" - Kaladin wrote here.

Is he right to say that? Are Bengals fans pathetic because it's taking this long to sell out a Sunday afternoon game against the New York Jets? If you're not driving five hours for a Bengals game, does that mean that you're not a true fan? Of course not; it means absolutely nothing.

One of my coworkers at my day job showed me his loans as a law student, nearing $150,000. Think he's going to spend money on tickets and concessions? How would you feel if told how to spend your money? Why not everyone give me $20 every month so I can convert this into a full time job or we'll close shop. How would that make you feel?

Everyone has their stories and reasons; but none of it is anyone's business. We could level blame against the team for stadium amenities, fans, or the continued Mike Brown boycott from those waking up from hypersleep chambers. Whatever.

Whether you want to accept it, or spent time being antagonistically playing The Cigarette Smoking Man against others here's the quantifiable reality.

The team lost a significant percent of their season-ticket holders following the 2010 season. A gathering storm was brewing and fans had had enough. When the Bengals made the playoffs in 2009 with the league's best running game, then added pieces for an explosive passing game captained by Carson Palmer, it was supposed to be glorious. It was a disaster. Only generating four wins created an incendiary environment. It was only made worse with Palmer's demand for a trade and literally no light at the end of the tunnel.

Obviously, things turned out for the better. In fact, what happened in 2010 and the succeeding offseason were needed for the eventual reconfiguration; from the front office, to the coaching staff and the players on the roster. The Bengals drafted A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, and quietly built one of the best defensive units in the NFL. This team is significantly better than they've ever been since Marvin Lewis was hired.

However, the damage was done.

In one survey conducted by the Cincinnati Enquirer in 2011, of the 176 season-ticket holders that responded, nearly 70 percent planned on cancelling. A week later, Lance McAlister, a sports radio jock on WLW and ESPN 1530, conducted his own poll with 541 season-ticket holders responding. Over 70 percent said they were not renewing.

Season tickets is the life-blood for attendance in the NFL. When that number collapses, teams are forced to apply a check-to-check mentality, struggling to sell out every game; especially those against uninteresting opponents. When that number collapses, like it did after the 2010 season, it's an extremely tough recovery; especially when the economy was dealing with its own issues at the time that might be bleeding into families today. Football is for fun and recreation; way down on the list of things that should be deemed important (and this is coming from a guy that virtually volunteers a majority of his time, every day, to do something that I love).

Things have been recovering.

The season-ticket renewal rate from 2011 to 2012 was significant, nearly 100 percent at one point. So at least those season ticket holders returned. Those that they lost after 2010, may have come back but it's more likely that they're attending more on a game-by-game basis; hence when the Bengals hosted the Steelers, Packers and Patriots to open the season in front of sold out crowds.

We're not really trying to find a cause. It is what it is. We're not interested in assigning blame; that's what politicians do in Washington and frankly, it helps no one; except for the feeling of empowerment from those making them. But how does making incendiary comments about fans in Cincinnati help anything?

***

After the Cincinnati Bengals finished Friday's practice with a clean bill of health (everyone participated) heading into Detroit, several players departed the motor city with injuries. Cornerback Leon Hall is done for the year and will go on Injured Reserve soon. Defensive tackle Devon Still suffered an elbow injury, and has already been declared out this weekend against the New York Jets. Marvin Jones popped his shoulder, but later returned and Rey Maualuga and Wallace Gilberry left and never returned.

It could have been worse.

Jones and Maualuga were working on the side with cornerback Terence Newman while Gilberry wasn't listed on the team's injury report; suggesting that he's fine.

It's uncertain if Jones, Maualuga or Newman play this week, but in the obsessive vernacular of meteorology this year, they're partly cloudy/sunny. In Newman's case, it might be a case of resting a veteran; considering that he missed two practices last week, we're comfortable enough to expect him on Sunday.

***

Filed under good news, wide receiver Andrew Hawkins returned to practice on Wednesday; the first game that he's eligible to play is the Thursday Night game against the Miami Dolphins in week nine. Cincinnati also has a three-week window with Hawkins as a roster exemption.

Once those three weeks expire, the Bengals must make a choice; activate him on the 53-man roster, place him on season-ending Injured Reserve or release him. Based on reports on how he's looked for the past month, we wouldn't be surprised if he's activated next week.

***

Former Bengals linebacker Takeo Spikes appeared on SiriusXM Radio with Pat Kirwan and Jason Horowitz to talk about playing Thursday Night Football and the preparation required. Towards the end of the interview, a caller asked Spikes if he'd be interested in returning to Cincinnati; which he said he'd be open to.

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