Bengals fans simply weren't attending games this year, despite the team holding the first seed in the AFC at one point during the season, winning six of their first eight games, positioning themselves for a second playoff berth in three seasons. The reasons varied. A 20-year hatred directed at Bengals president Mike Brown is the most popular. The team not reacting to the economy like other franchises have is the most logical. But there's any number of reasons fans have turned away when the Bengals play their games. We made an argument on December 7, 2011 suggesting that while certain front office personnel isn't likely to change, the team's ownership can still do something to invite fans back to Paul Brown Stadium -- lower the ticket prices.
Take the economics of the locale out of the discussion, or broaden it further. Open the doors for more fans, lower class fans that definitely can't pay $65 for a ticket, much less multiple tickets, parking and concessions -- the less privileged that work two jobs.
My point of view, my perspective, is that it’s a damn shame that the Bengals (the front office themselves), hasn't done everything that they can to get more people at Paul Brown Stadium to cheer for the team. I’m not talking about putting a winner on the field — that much they have done and we all acknowledge their efforts in that regard.
Lower the prices, make parking cheaper, offer deals more than a free goddamn bag of popcorn. Other teams do it. The 7-5 Detroit Lions, who haven't struggled with sell outs this season, offered $42 for their cheapest ticket through their website. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers is as low as $35. The Rams cheapest tickets when they host the Bengals later this month is $45 and Thursday Night Football's game with Cleveland hosting the Steelers, fans can still purchase tickets for $46.50. These prices are obtained through team's respective websites.
So leave it to the team to make a breaking announcement while yours truly sits in a waiting area, responding to the news to an audience more concerned with filling their empty stomachs. Hey, they're listening to us, this humbled writer preached. They're listening to me, the more villainous writer with plans to take over the world grumbled. As Jason Garrison wrote Thursday evening, the Cincinnati Bengals announced that certain sections within Paul Brown Stadium will face a price reduction for potential season ticket holders, dropping ticket prices by as much as 33%.
The far corner sections (347, 346, 333, 334, 317, 316, 303, 304) are being advertised on Bengals.com at $40 a game. Sections adjacent to those (344, 345, 335, 336, 315, 314, 306, 305) are reduced to $50 and other areas are seeing prices within $65, the cheapest single-game ticket you could obtain through the team this season. Next year's season tickets are already available.
Though the message probably wasn't heard by those that won't return to Paul Brown Stadium until Mike Brown retires, or leaves team operations alone, this move by the family was smart. Though most likely a response to having the stadium at 75-80% capacity this year, selling out only two of eight regular season games this year, it will indirectly help those fans more concerned with strict budgets, deciding to use that money on cost of living increases.
We're not sure if Mike Brown and the Brown family will ever repair their relationship with the community and their own fans, and many are unlikely to offer forgiveness when that day comes. Reducing ticket prices, though in response to an empty stadium, is a good first step because in the end it offers fans a benefit to return to Paul Brown Stadium.