The New York Jets, it turns out, had the same problem in their home opener last night as the Giants did the previous day: several thousand empty seats, all in the pricey sections that require fans to shell out for personal seat licenses to buy tickets.
Harvey Araton in today’s New York Times, though, looks not at the empty seats, but at the people who aren’t sitting in them:
In [Judy] Staubo’s case, after making a quick decision not to pay $20,000 for each of the family’s six seats in 2008, she did initially agree to buy four seats in the upper deck that carried a $1,000 P.S.L.
“They sent me my assignment — the last four seats in the last section,” she said. “I said, ‘Wow, what a slap in the face.’ All those years, all that loyalty, and what they were telling me was, ‘You don’t matter.’ And I said, ‘O.K., I‚Äôm out.'”
Now, in free-market fundamentalist terms, this is all well and good: Previously a spot on the Giants’ season-ticket list was something that longtime fans hoarded and newbies had to endure a decades-long waitlist to get; now, anyone with sufficient cash can buy their way to the lower level, and the team gets to reap the proceeds. It all works perfectly — so long as you believe that the most sensible way to decide who gets to see a football game (or see it from the same atmospheric layer is based on who has the most capital to invest up-front in ticket rights.
One who disagreed with this notion, Giants fan Lou Palma, told Araton he not only gave up his seats but refused a ticket to the home opener on general principle:
“I will not go,” Palma said. His only contact with the Giants will continue to be e-mails to officials that contain insights and opinions they won‚Äôt want to hear.
“I sent a column in The Times that talked about libraries closing in Camden while the taxpayers are stuck with the debt on the old stadium,” Palma said. “I got back an e-mail from the vice president of marketing. He said, ‘Take me off your e-mail list.'”
It’s not quite talking about a revolution, but there does seem to be a growing anger at sports teams for inaccessible ticket prices. The question is whether consumer outrage will grow to the point where those empty blocks of seats force teams to adjust their pricing structure. Probably not — but it has already hit the non-football Eagles.