A number of NFL teams have come under fire for the significant increases in ticket prices which have occurred over the last 15 years.
The Philadelphia Eagles were among those implicated in the criticism, with fans today paying 84% more to see their favorite side compete than they would have all the way back in 2006.
This sounds like quite a scandal, but are there good reasons for price hikes like this, and could teams choose to make tickets more affordable, or are the eye-watering expenses of seeing live football here to stay?
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The 10 worst offenders examined
The 84% uptick in the price of tickets for Eagles games sounds bad in isolation, with the $69 average creeping up to just under $110 in 2020. However, this increase is only the ninthsteepest in the NFL as a whole, showing that there are some fans who are feeling more of a pinch right now.
Top of the charts are the Las Vegas Raiders, where a typical game will cost each fan around $153 to attend. This is 147% more than in 2006, and of course this could partly be accounted for by the move from Oakland that took place last year.
With legal gambling sites in Pennsylvania found here, Eagles acolytes could save themselves a long trip to Sin City and still enjoy the gambling and the on-field action from the comfort of their own homes whenever the two teams collide.
The Seattle Seahawks were only marginally less cutthroat with their price increases. Tickets went from $50 to $118, equivalent to a 134% rise. The rest of the top 10 is rounded out by the Green Bay Packers, the San Francisco 49ers, the Houston Texans, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Tennessee Titans, the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers.
One further thing to bear in mind is that these averages are not for single-game tickets, but rather for the prices charged to season ticket holders for the teams in question. So if anything the figures are actually not as bad as they could be, and more casual fans will face far higher bills to see an NFL game in 2021.
The most cost-conscious teams celebrated
So far it seems like NFL sides are putting fans through the wringer when it comes to charging for tickets. But what about teams that have been a little less eager to rake in even more cash at the gates?
The Los Angeles Chargers are the best of the bunch, as in 2006 fans paid $62.82 on average, while in 2020 this had risen by just 25% to $78.38.
The New York Jets have also come off smelling of roses in this context, as they only upped ticket prices by 22% to just over $94 during the same period.
It is important to think about the role that inflation plays here. The Chargers, for example, are actually charging fans less for tickets today than they were in 2006, when inflation is taken into account. The buying power of fiat currency tends to fall over time, and this is no different in the world of professional sports.
So with inflation in mind, what do the Philadelphia Eagles’ ticket price increases look like? Well, if price rises were only pegged to inflation, people in 2020 would be paying roughly $94 to see the side. This is a difference of just $16 from the actual average price, which does put a bit more perspective on things, and should temper the ire of fans to an extent.
The justifications for price hikes
While there is no question that increasing prices for NFL tickets is to some extent associated with a desire to make more money out of hosting games, this is certainly not the only factor at play here.
The stadiums themselves have come a long way, and fan expectations are higher than ever. In many cases these modern venues are far more than just a sports field with a few seats attached, but rather full-blown entertainment complexes with a lot more to do and see.
All this costs money to design, build and maintain, so owners have to recoup some of their investment by charging more at the door.
Then there’s the fact that players are making more than ever, with the minimum cap set at $180 million for 2021. Back in 2006, the average NFL player salary was $1.4 million, which is mind-bogglingly low in comparison, even with modern media deals making more of an impact.
Fans will have to face up to paying more to see NFL sides like the Eagles play, although with the relative affordability of home entertainment services, it is even more enjoyable to catch games on the TV in 2021.