Ticket Sales And The Business Of The NFL
The following is a guest contribution by Zakari A. Kurtz, Esq. Zak received his undergraduate degree from Roanoke College and his J.D. from Michigan State University. Zak is licensed to practice law in New York.
With only eight home games for each NFL team, tickets can be scarce and the laws of supply and demand can make NFL ticket prices very high. According to the resale ticket site SeatGeek, tickets to the 2015 Super Bowl are going for an average price of $2,879, with the cheapest tickets selling for around $2,000 and the most expensive tickets selling for over $180,000. Ticket sales are a large part of the business of the NFL. Fans love their teams and will pay an arm and a leg to attend games. If you are going to be purchasing home game tickets then you may want to look on PromoCodeWatch.com to see if the ticket sites are offering discounts or coupons.
The average price for an NFL regular season ticket in 2014 was $84.83, a 4.4 percent increase from the previous season, according to Sporting News. Statistics gathered by Team Marketing Report for the New York Daily News, showed that the AFC Champion, New England Patriots, enjoyed the highest average ticket price in the NFL this season at $122 per ticket. The San Francisco 49ers with the brand new, tech savvy, Levi’s Stadium had the second highest ticket price in the NFL at $117, while the Cleveland Browns had the lowest ticket price amongst NFL teams with an average price of $54.20 per ticket. According to TiqIQ, a secondary ticket market search engine, NFL tickets on the resell market increased by 26 percent in 2014. With record-high ticket prices, the league is also seeing record-high resale value.
As the value of NFL tickets increase, ticket holders (specifically season ticket holders) must not forget that their ticket is a legal contract and can have consequences if the specific contract terms are broken. Teams and the league must be able to rely on fans taking accountability for the ticket contracts they agree to, or they should be prepared to face legal action.
In 2009 the Redskins won a default judgment in the amount of $66,364 against a 72-year-old grandmother who was unable to keep up with her $5,300 annual payments on a 10-year contract for two seats behind the end zone for every season through 2017. A Washington Post article conveyed that in a five year time period the Washington Redskins filed more than 125 lawsuits against season ticket holders who defaulted on ticket payments, winning a total of $3.6 million dollars in judgments.
In these types of contract situations, the teams will usually win. Many of the standard multiyear ticket contracts include an acceleration clause that makes the entire contract amount due upon default. Therefore, if the ticket owner fails to make any of the installment payments required by the contract, or does not live up to any of the contract terms, the team has the right to collect the entire amount of the contract, plus interest, attorneys’ fees and court costs. The best thing for the ticket owner to do in a default situation is to negotiate a settlement with the team and not take it to court.
Another important legal area season ticket holders need to pay attention to is the sale of their tickets on secondary markets like StubHub, Craigslist or similar sites. In these cases, season ticket holders can sometimes be held liable for the actions of the individuals who they sell or give their tickets to. On October 5, 2014, during a Lions versus Bills game at Ford Field in Detroit a fan shined a laser pointer into the eyes of the Bills quarterback, Kyle Orton, during the first quarter of the game. The fan sent several tweets bragging to the world about his illegal acts and was subsequently found and cited for misdemeanor disorderly conduct, given a stiff fine, and was banned from the stadium. More importantly, the season-ticket holder who sold the fan his ticket had his season tickets revoked for the rest of the season.
Fan and player safety is a very serious area for teams and the league. Whether you are a season ticket holder or just attending an individual game, you must abide by the NFL fan code of conduct and not break any team or stadium specific policies. In addition to facing criminal charges the individual can also be forced to go through other procedures set forth by the team and NFL in order to continue to attend games at the stadium where they hold season tickets. The New York Jets and MetLife Stadium are one of those teams that have additional procedures that provide another layer of protection for fans and ticket holders. On October 26, 2014, the MetLife Stadium security cameras caught a New York Jets fan punching and knocking out a Buffalo Bills fan. The fan now faces criminal charges for simple assault, and has been banned from attending the teams next ten home games. According to nj.com, he was also required to submit a letter of apology, showing remorse for his actions, and complete a fan code of conduct class before he can set foot back in MetLife Stadium again without trespassing.
The NFL faced a lot of criticism this season by fans for the high ticket prices and how they handled several of the player conduct policy violations. All of this could have had an impact on ticket sales; however, despite everything, ticket sales and attendance at NFL stadiums continued to grow and the business of the NFL is booming.