Considering the modest return on investment lately, nobody can bag on Detroit Lions' fans too much for becoming frustrated with the team raising ticket prices. The Lions announced on Monday that they'll raise their season ticket prices again. Despite that, the fans must realize the reasoning behind the move.
“The decision to incorporate an increase in overall ticket pricing was made after careful consideration,” Lions team president Tom Lewand said in a statement. “To remain competitive in the NFL and offer an extraordinary fan experience, we need to be able to invest right back into our product and that’s exactly what we’ll continue to do.”
Detroit's plan is interesting. They've moved to a tier system which the team is calling a "variable ticket price" system. That means preseason ticket prices will dive significantly, but the price of middle of the pack and premium games will see an increase. Among those games would be Thanksgiving Day, match ups with the NFL's best teams and any possible games on Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football. All told, fans will see an 8.2 percent increase at the box office.
As Lewand said, the decision likely wasn't easy. The Lions have struggled lately, but because the results on the field haven't measured up at all doesn't mean the team cannot raise ticket prices. Sentimentally, that's a good thought, but a multi-billion dollar business like the NFL isn't in the business of being sentimental. The Lions have to meet payroll, continue to improve the stadium experience and manage to come out ahead.
Paying more money for tickets is a necessary football evil anymore. If the Lions are to continue to pay their players and attract top flight free agent talent, they must remain able to change with the seasons and keep their prices competitive.Though the Lions already had the fifth-highest ticket prices in 2013, they haven't stopped spending money or trying to take the next step towards winning in the playoffs, nor will they in the next few seasons. If the Lions raised ticket prices without this commitment, there would be reason for anger.
Since there has been an noticeable organizational uptick lately including the hiring of Jim Caldwell, a coach with a Super Bowl resume, there is no reason slight price increases should be met with scorn. Those who cannot afford the more expensive games or an entire season package can seek out the preseason tickets, buy some lower level games or find their tickets in other places.
Season ticket increases are about generating funds to meet or exceed a business bottom line and not the more romantic sentiments of winning, losing or fan goodwill. It's the unfortunate reality of athletics that's getting worse by the day.
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