Is the NFL Elitist?

by Kay Lynn

I love professional football in general and the San Diego Chargers in particular.  Yesterday, our high definition television did me no good in trying to watch the action at Qualcomm Stadium.

Cowboys Stadium 2010

photo credit: Cliff_Baise

NFL Blackout

The Chargers failed to sell 95% of their tickets by the deadline Thursday so anyone within 75 miles could not see the game on  TV which is referred to as a blackout.  This hasn’t happened here in almost six years but occurred 22 times in other cities last year.

That statistic is not really a surprise given the economic downturn and the high price of tickets.  The Chargers have the eighth highest average ticket price at $81 plus.  (Just think there are seven other teams with even higher average prices!)  This is in a state with a 12.4% unemployment rate.  The city’s unemployment is a bit better at 10.6%.

Cost To Attend NFL Games

Let’s take a look at what it would cost Mr. Boomer and I to attend a game.

  • Tickets: $122.50 for two tickets in the nosebleed section including Ticketmaster fees.
  • Parking: $25 to park at the stadium or $40 to park for free at a park n ride and take a bus.
  • Refreshments:$5 each for soda/water, $9 for Sam Adams and $6-10 for various food items.  I would plan on $40 for a drinks and light snacks.

One game for two would add up to nearly $200 and that’s taking the low-budget options.  There are an average of two home games a month for four months.  I don’t know about you but spending $1600 to watch eight football games is not in my budget.


 The blackout resulted in lost business for bars and restaurants where people gather each week to watch the game with friends and fellow fans.  For those that normally watch at home, we found other activities.

Many MLB teams lowered ticket and/or concession prices this season as a result of decreased attendance last year.  They didn’t stop broadcasting games.If the Chargers aren’t careful we’ll forget what it’s like to have a home team.  It’s worked in Los Angeles after all.

Is the NFL only trying to appeal to the wealthy?

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iamtheworkingpoor September 20, 2010 at 5:28 pm

My husband is a football fan. It is a huge expense to see a game., too much for us at this time. They make so much money (the industry in general) with the television packages, the shirts, hats, mugs, keychains, trading cards, the overpriced tickets, the high price of parking, the overpriced food, and then there are the salaries. At one time, long ago, we had neighborhood games we could go to where we met our neighbors and socialized closer to home, and as often as we wanted. I have an old photo from the thirties of my dad in his baseball uniform proudly lined up with his team. Those were the happiest moments of his life. Now we have men making millions per year, throwing tantrums and behaving horribly, while some of their fans earn minimum wage and can’t even afford to go to a game.

Whew, thanks for letting me rant. You can tell I’m a football widow can’t you?

Kay Lynn September 20, 2010 at 7:18 pm

I was ranting as well, so you’re welcome for the platform. It is a shame that the price of attending one game is out of sight for the average middle class person.

Financial Samurai September 20, 2010 at 8:44 pm

What a shame about the blackout.

The NFL is just trying to make some money, as it is a business.

If they lose money, then we’d have even less opportunities to watch!

Kay Lynn September 21, 2010 at 6:04 am

Sam, I’m not against them making money but I think they’re doing quite well. They should adjust their pricing to the economy.

Our stadium was expanded a few years ago to be able to host Super Bowls. That meant that the Chargers have 10,000 more seats to fill each game which they did during the boom. Ironically, now the NFL says the stadium is too old to win a Super Bowl bid again.

Money Reasons September 21, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Those ticket are incredible expensive. I can’t afford them, but I have friends that take me occasionally. Totally nuts in my opinion!

But if you can afford it, it’s great!

Kay Lynn September 22, 2010 at 6:30 am

Money Reasons, you have nice friends! Ironically, my student son (who still lives at home) has season tickets. I need to charge him more to live here I think.

Ken @ Spruce Up Your Finances September 21, 2010 at 7:49 pm

It’s amazing how those black outs are punishing the fans at this bad economy. I think NFL team should think twice as not many people can really afford to go to the games nowadays.

Kay Lynn September 22, 2010 at 6:31 am

Ken, I agree. There’s still a lot of revenue to be made from NFL branded clothing, beer mugs, etc.

Evan September 21, 2010 at 7:51 pm

I wish the tix were only $81 in NY! I just picked up 2 tickets to Monday’s Jets vs Vikings for $125/each.

I don’t think it is an “NFL” thing rather than an individual team’s choice to price their tickets a certain way. Sometimes they misprice them but so do MLB Teams – check out all the yankee problems for the their luxury seats

Kay Lynn September 22, 2010 at 6:28 am

Evan, I choked on my coffee reading the price of those tickets! You are right that each team determines their own price but the black out policy is the NFL. Even pleas from Congress didn’t move them.

Squirrelers September 22, 2010 at 8:56 pm

First of all, the NFL is a great business. They have tremendous brand loyalty, and can charge an arm and a leg for tickets.In addition to that, it’s a league where players are arguablly getting the worst deal of any of the major pro sports in the U.S. There has been much talk that the owners will “lockout” the players next season.

Having said that, I would rather just watch the games at home. It’s more comfortable, you don’t have to brave the elements, and when the game’s over, you don’t have to drive and fight traffic. And yes….it’s less expensive too!

The whole blackout concept is interesting to me. Living in Chicago, we never see that happen here at all. It’s a sports-crazed city. However, I lived in Indianapolis for a while, BEFORE the Colts were good, and they would have trouble selling out. It was my first exposure to the blackouts, and I thought it was strange. Of course, being a Chicago fan, it didn’t bother me that the Colts weren’t on TV.

By the way – I hope your quarterback, Philip Rivers, has a great year. He’s on my fantasy football team:)

Kay Lynn September 26, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Squirrelers, how did you like Philip Rivers’ stats today? He set a team record for passing yards and they still lose!

I wonder if the NFL is going to squander of lot of that loyalty this year and next. My father-in-law still complains about the last MLB lockout how many years ago?

Bret @ Hope to Prosper September 25, 2010 at 4:54 pm

I used to be a huge football fan. But, I hardly watch the games any more. After the Chargers fiasco last week, I didn’t even watch Monday Night Football. When I was younger, I didn’t take college classes on Monday nights to watch the games. This NFL lockout / strike is all about how much money they can extort from the fans for tickets and the government for stadiums. If it happens during this recession, I hope they take a huge hit in the pocketbook.

I feel the same way about baseball. I’ve been an Angels season ticket holder for 8 years and this is my last season. It’s bad enough that I have to pay $9 for a beer, so some player can make $100 Million. Then, they won’t even hustle to get a ball. The last straw was the 2010 All-Star game. They tried to charge us $1,710 for our four $13 seats. I really wanted to see the All-Star game, but not for $427.50 per seat. I didn’t even watch it on TV this year.

Sports have become all about the suites and the big spenders. Neither the league nor the players care about the working fans that show up in the seats, cheer for the home team and spend thousands of dollars every year. I’ve decided this year to spend my time and my entertainment dollars elsewhere.

Kay Lynn September 26, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Bret, I think they are making a big mistake because there just aren’t that many rich fans to support the teams. They need the middle and lower class fans that buy the branded clothing year after year.

Bret @ Hope to Prosper September 27, 2010 at 12:01 pm


I hear the NFL is planning to change all 30 team jerseys next year. I’m sure they will make a ton of money, since loyal fans will have to update. Personally, I like my retro gear the best and I don’t feel the need to have the latest thing.

Kay Lynn September 29, 2010 at 6:38 am

Bret, I like the retro look as well. I will also continue to wear my LaDanian Tomlinson jersey even though he’s a Jet now.

Khaleef @ KNS Financial September 25, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Teams that have blackouts are getting a lot of bad press. I wonder if that will cause them to reverse their policies. It seems like they are punishing people nearby for not being able to afford their expensive tickets! I don’t think they are going to increase ticket sales that way (unless they have a ton of large corporations around that can absorb the hit).

I don’t have a big problem with them doing that because it is a private business. I just think it’s a bad idea.

Kay Lynn September 26, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Khaleef, we don’t have a lot of large corporations in San Diego. It’s mostly a small business type of town so that has been a problem in the past with the teams trying to sell luxury boxes.

Greg McFarlane September 28, 2010 at 10:24 pm

“$40 to park for free at a park n ride and take a bus.”
The bus costs $20 a person?

Neither the NFL nor the Chargers owe you “reasonably priced” tickets, regardless of what your definition of reasonably priced is. Many of the commenters complain about prices in one breath, then say they’ll take their hard-earned dollars elsewhere with the next. Fine, then show your local team who’s boss.

I’m guessing that in 1940, sports fans complained about how much better things were in 1920. The seats were cheaper, the players tried harder, the world’s going to hell in a handbasket.

You admit that you’ll pay $9 for a beer, which kills your brain cells anyway. How long does it take to drink a beer, 15 minutes? Then on a per-hour basis, your nosebleed seat at Qualcomm is a better entertainment value than the beer. And safer.

Don’t people live in San Diego because of all the the activities you can do there, anyway? It’s not like the depressing Rust Belt cities that live and die with their Bills, Browns et al. because there’s nothing else to do.

Kay Lynn September 29, 2010 at 6:51 am

Greg, the bus was $6 round trip last year when the public bus system provided them. They cut it (budget cuts) so this year it’s a private company charging $20 per person roundtrip…and they’re getting lots of business.

I just want the NFL to be respectful of what some fans have been going through the past few years while they’re been jacking up prices. Knowing that things will improve in a couple of years they could suspend blackouts temporarily.

I don’t drink beer (others in my family do) but do buy the $5 bottle of water to stay hydrated in the sun. You’re right in that we have lots of alternate activities available instead of watching the game. That’s the beauty of living in America’s Finest City.

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