By Rick Johnson
( MrJ@profootball24x7.com )
There is probably no truth to the rumor that Baltimore Ravens owner Stephen J. Bisciotti, the 380th richest American according to a recent ranking by Forbes Magazine, increased his net worth $200 million in one year (to $1.3 billion) thanks in part to the huge price increase charged by the Ravens for season tickets this year.
What is true is that the Ravens 2007 season ticket price hike was the second highest in the NFL. Only the Dallas Cowboys’ maverick owner Jerry Jones, getting ready to milk his new cash cow stadium in 2009, raised prices a greater percentage than did Baltimore.
If the Ravens ended the season with their offense and defense both ranked in the Top 10, chances are we would be singing a merry tune. But many of us are not cawing a happy tune by breaking into the ticket price Top 10. Purple flocksters bucks now pay for the NFL’s seventh highest priced ticket. Raven fans are now doing their part financially as well as vocally to help their team.
According to the 2007 data from Team Marketing Research’s annual Fan Cost Index, (spreadsheet attached here) the Baltimore Ravens increased the average price of a season ticket by 24.7 % to $77.20 (compared to Dallas’ 27.2 %). Making Baltimore’s jump all the more alarming was that the overall league average price rise was $4.50 (6.9%), meaning that on average, Ravens prices skyrocketed 3.5 times more than the NFL average. Other teams that leveled double digit increases on their fanatics are Tennessee (13.6%), Buffalo (12.5%), Miami and Pittsburgh (11.4 %), and Indianapolis and Arizona (10.5%). Only Indy, Baltimore, and Dallas have an average ticket price in the Top Half of the league. All the rest are still below the league average.
I guess we can be somewhat relieved that there are six other teams whose fanatics must pay more than Raven rooters are. With an average price of $84.12 the Cowboys did a leap of Lambeauian proportions from 16th to 3rd without an unsportsmanlike penalty in sight. Along with Dallas, rounding out the NFL’s top seven average ticket prices are: New England ($91), Chicago ($85), NYG ($81), NYJ ($80), and Washington ($79.13). By comparison, our AFC North counterparts Pittsburgh and Cincinnati rank 17th and 18th ($66 each), while Cleveland’s average ticket price is second from the bottom @ $49 per ticket (Buffalo is last at $47).
(Note: TMR’s average ticket price represents a weighted average of season ticket prices for general seating categories, determined by factoring the tickets in each price range as a percentage of the total number of seats in each ballpark. Premium seating (tickets that come with at least one added amenity) are not included in the ticket average. In order to calculate an accurate “percentage change,” TMR used the new formula for last season’s prices for all general seating categories. Luxury suites are also excluded from the survey. Season ticket pricing is used for any team that offers some or all tickets at lower prices for customers who buy season tickets.)
Below is TMR’s press release describing their total Fan Cost Index at the sub-atomic level.
CHICAGO— As the National Football League continues to thrive, ticket prices continue to soar like a Peyton Manning touchdown pass. The average ticket price for the 2007 season is up about $4.50 from the previous year, with a season ticket costing $67.11, according to Team Marketing Report’s trademark Fan Cost Index (see below link to spreadsheet for detailed chart information).
Twenty-three teams reported overall increases of individual season ticket prices, according to TMR research. Eight teams reported double-digit percentage increases, the same number as last year. Only two of the 2006 teams repeated similar increases in 2007 – the Miami Dolphins, who raised prices by 11.4 percent to $66.11, following some seat scaling changes at Dolphin Stadium, and the Arizona Cardinals, now in their second year at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals raised prices by 10.5 percent with a ticket costing $56.71, on average.
Dallas Cowboys fans will see the largest increase (27.2 percent to $84.12), a sure sign of things to come as the team prepares to move into its new state-of-the-art stadium in 2009. Jerry Jones’ team was stagnant as far as increases in the previous season, but now sports the biggest Fan Cost Index total increase – up 20.9 percent to $416.50. The Baltimore Ravens raised ticket prices by 24.5 percent to $77.20, and their FCI total rose 17.3 percent to $411.81.
The Indianapolis Colts, one the sport’s best bargains during the Manning era, increased individual prices by 10.5 percent after their Super Bowl victory, with an average season ticket at $70.98. That figure is lower than most Super Bowl champions. While the Pittsburgh Steelers remained unchanged in 2006, the previous five champs had bumped prices up the following season by an average of 18.5 percent.
The Colts have already unveiled ticket price levels for their new stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium, which opens in 2008, and prices will continue to rise incrementally.
The losers of Super Bowl XLI, the Chicago Bears, raised prices by 9.1 percent to $84.89, following a 12.9 percent jump in 2006. Super Bowl XL teams, Pittsburgh and Seattle, increased prices two years after going to Detroit. The Steelers, who missed the playoffs with an 8-8 record, bumped up average tickets by 11.4 percent to $65.94. The Seahawks, who increased prices by 12.7 percent last season, bumped them up by 8.5 percent to $54.74, now among the five lowest prices in the league.
For the fourth straight season, the Buffalo Bills are the NFL’s best bargain, according to their individual ticket average. Fans will pay approximately $46.46 for a seat at Ralph Wilson Stadium – an increase of 12.5 percent. Two teams decreased ticket prices in 2007 – the San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings. This was the second straight drop in pricing for the Niners, who moved to a tiered pricing structure in 2006.
The New England Patriots remain the priciest franchise in football. Their average price of $90.89 is steady for the second straight year, following a 20 percent jump from 2004 to 2005. The only change at Gillette Stadium is a $5 parking increase that bumped up the league’s highest Fan Cost Index total to $482.47. The Bears leapfrogged the Washington Redskins for No. 2 on the FCI list as a 6.5 percent increase pushed their total to $468.04. Washington ($441.43), the New York Giants ($427.62) and New York Jets ($425.28) round out the top five.
The FCI formula takes a representative look at what a family of four could expect to spend at a football game this year. With a 5.7 percent increase, a family will likely spend, on average, $367.31 for an outing to watch the nation’s most popular spectator sport. While 2006 marked the first time that five teams have FCIs higher than $400, this year has nine teams above that mark; Dallas, Baltimore, Tampa Bay ($406.76), and San Diego ($400.07) round out the list.
Still, 17 teams have FCI totals under the league average. Four teams have totals under $300, down from six last season. Jacksonville is the lowest, usurping Buffalo’s spot, at $271.42. Buffalo is next at $274.83, after an 11.6 percent increase, and New Orleans ($298.42) and Carolina ($299.16) round out the bottom. The Tennessee Titans had a 15.8 percent FCI increase, moving out of the $200 club, to $330.27, and the Cleveland Browns bumped up 2 percent to $303.16.
Editor’s note: The Fan Cost Index™ comprises the prices of four (4) average-price tickets, two (2) small draft beers, four (4) small soft drinks, four (4) regular-size hot dogs, parking for one (1) car, two (2) game programs and two (2) least-expensive, adult-size adjustable caps. Costs were determined by telephone calls with representatives of the teams, venues and concessionaires, along with additional research. Identical questions were asked in all interviews. Beer and Soft Drink prices denote smallest available size.
For more information or for other leagues’ FCI results, go to www.teammarketing.com.
Identical information is collected for all teams. The 2007 surveys for the NHL and NBA will be published on opening day of each respective season. TMR included premium seat pricing in the average ticket cost from 1992 to 2001. Since 2002, the FCIs include only a general seating average for the listed ticket prices.
About Team Marketing Report: Team Marketing Report, Inc. is the industry leader in reporting innovative, revenue-generating ideas for sports executives of all leagues and levels. The monthly Team Marketing Report™ newsletter is written for the busy executive who wants to stay ahead of the competition. Other publications under the TMR umbrella include the Sports Sponsor FactBook™ and Inside the Ownership of Pro Sports. For more information about Team Marketing Report, Inc., please visit www.teammarketing.com, or call 847-509-1010.