Jets slashing PSL prices to avoid blackouts

Hey, everybody, remember when New York Jets owner Woody Johnson insisted he wouldn’t need to cut PSL prices in order to sell out home games this year, despite reports that more than 10,000 seats remained unsold? Well, that pretense came to a crashing end today:

The New York Jets are reducing the prices of about 18,000 personal seat licenses, including around 9,000 of which are unsold, by up to 50 percent beginning Friday in an effort to sell out the new Meadowlands Stadium by opening week. …

[Jets VP Matt] Higgins said the team was sending an e-mail Friday to alert fans of the reduced prices in the $1.6 billion stadium. Lower end-zone seats will be dropped from $5,000 to $2,500, as will those in the mezzanine end zone. Seats in the lower-sideline section will be cut from $15,000 to $10,000.

Higgins added that fans who’ve already paid the higher prices for seats in those sections will receive rebates — something that will certainly avoid the fan outrage that otherwise would have resulted, but that could end up costing the team tens of millions of dollars.

In the end, though, the Jets wind up right where they would have if they’d priced the PSLs at the lower price point to begin with, except they can now be confident that they’ve explored the market and found that they can’t go higher — and get to look like good guys with fans for lowering prices from exorbitant to merely outrageous to boot. Behavioral economics is a funny thing.

Adultery site bids for Giants/Jets stadium name; fieldofschemes.com ups the ante

The sports blog world was much agog yesterday over the prospect of the new New York Jets and Giants stadium possibly being named after a website that has variously been described as a “website that promotes extramarital affairs” and “the dating site for adulterers.” (Its slogan: “Life is short. Have an affair.”) According to the website’s CEO, he’s willing to offer $5 million a year for a five-year deal to slap his site’s name on the teams’ new stadium.

Now, the odds on the Jets and Giants accepting are pretty much zero, but the CEO in question probably doesn’t care about that, since he’s just gotten his URL printed in dozens of newspapers by doing little more than issuing a press release. (Which is why you’ll note I haven’t actually mentioned the site’s name — fieldofschemes.com’s ad rates may be cheap, but I draw the line at free.)

Looked at that way, it’s a brilliant move, and I don’t see why I, for one, should let the opportunity pass to cash in as well. So, without further ado: Fieldofschemes.com hereby offers the Giants and Jets $20 trillion a year if they will name their new stadium “The Meadowlands Field of Schemes at Fieldofschemes.com Field.” This is a serious offer, as evidenced by the fact that I used “trillion” and not “kajillion” or “kersquillion” in the announcement.

USA Today, you know where to find me.

New York gets Super Bowl, promised rain of money, snowballs

In case you missed it, the NFL awarded the 2014 Super Bowl to the new New York Jets and Giants stadium on Tuesday night, setting off a media frenzy in the capital of what’s left of the news media. For sheer hype, you’ll of course want to turn to the New York Post, which asserted, among other things:

The Super Bowl could pump $500 million into the metro-New York economy, according to some estimates.

The vote was a clear nod of appreciation to the Giants and Jets for building a state-of-the-art, 82,500-seat stadium without having tapped public funds.

Errrr, it was certainly a reward for building a new stadium, which is what the NFL does to get these things built. But “without having tapped public funds” isn’t exactly true, given that the stadium got free state land and property tax breaks — and in any case, since when does the NFL want to reward its teams for putting up more of their own money and extorting less from taxpayers?

On the subject of that $500 million for the “local economy,” meanwhile, ESPN’s Peter Keating talks to some economists who say it’s a load of crap:

In 1999, for example, Phil Porter of the University of South Florida, looked at six Super Bowls at three different venues and concluded there was “no measurable impact on spending.” In 2006, Robert Baade of Lake Forest College and Victor Matheson of the College of the Holy Cross found that on average, Super Bowls generate about one-fourth of the impact projected by the NFL, and that two cities — Atlanta in 2000 and Tampa in 2001 — actually lost money on the game.

I’ve talked to Porter frequently, so I know there’s one caveat to these figures: He looked at warm-weather sites, and needless to say, hotel rooms in New York in February are slightly less packed to the gills than they are in Miami. Still, there’s likely to be some crowding out of other visitors for the Super Bowl — New York is pretty hopping with tourists at all times of year — and Matheson’s point holds true that “the magnitude of the economic impact would depend a lot on how willing fans were to get away from the game and spend money on things like Broadway shows.”

Meanwhile, other outlets focused on different angles, with Bloomberg News noting that the announcement means the teams could get more money for naming rights to the stadium (which New Jersey gave up its stake in, you’ll recall, as part of the final stadium deal), while the New York Times notes that it snows in New York in February, and fans might throw snowballs. Which is probably the weakest attempt of the day to find a Super Bowl-related excuse to rehash an old news story rattling around the archives, but at least it beats printing economic misinformation.

Jets at least 10,000 short on PSL sales, risking blackouts

The simmering New York Jets PSL crisis finally blew up bigtime today, when team owner Woody Johnson told the New York Post that the Jets have more than 10,000 personal seat licenses still unsold with three months to go before opening day. A “league source” told the Post that the figure was actually 17,000; Johnson denied that but said it was more than 10,000, which I guess means it could be 16,999.

Either way, it’s not exactly a sign that PSL sales are “going well,” as Jets officials insisted back in March. If the information in the Post story is correct, the Jets have sold out most of their club seats and non-PSLed upper deck seats, but lower-deck non-club seats without PSLs are staying on the shelves.

As discussed here previously, this puts the Jets in a bind: They can’t start selling lower-deck seats without requiring PSLs, because fans who’d already bought PSLs after being told they were the only way to get those seats would be outraged. Yet if the seats don’t sell, the team gets blacked out on TV — which makes all Jets fans outraged.

Conceivably they could do some selective discounting of PSLs in the hopes that the outrage would at least be diminished then, but Johnson insisted to the Post that he’ll consider nothing of the sort:

“[They are] fairly priced right now. [They’re] selling, and [they’re] selling right along our trendlines, so we’re good to go. … We’ll eventually sell [the remaining PSLs]. I’m 100-percent confident that we’ll sell them. Whether it’s exactly in the timeline that we predict now, we’re going to sell them. I think our product is too good. And when people see the stadium and come see [non-football] events here, they will sell.”

Uh-huh.

The one other option here: Newsday’s Neil Best reports (crazy-expensive subscription required, but summarized here) that the Jets could write a check to the NFL for the visiting team’s share (34%) of the unsold tickets, and the blackout, at least, would be lifted. That seems a pretty expensive way to avoid admitting that your pricing plan is farkakte, but this is why I don’t run an NFL team.

Meadowlands stadium slammed for pillars, grey decor

More reviews are coming in on the New York Giants‘ and Jets$1.6 billion new stadium, and glowing they ain’t:

  • The New York Post reports that the end zone sections have numerous seats obstructed by pillars, with one Jets season-ticket holder calling this “a joke” and a stadium architect noting that pillars were very unusual in modern stadiums. (Though obstructed views are less so.) The stadium’s designer insisted that the columns were necessary to bring the upper deck closer to the field, which is certainly a legitimate goal, and that the obstructed seats were never intended to be sold. Why the teams bothered to put in seats there in the first place, though, is unclear.
  • A Giants season ticket holder who got to walk through the place this weekend calls it “UNIMPRESSIVE” (caps in original), griping: “Everything is grey. The outside is grey, the floors are grey, the escalators are grey, the paint everywhere is grey, the signs are grey, the bathrooms are grey, the barriers are grey and every seat is grey.” His other complaints, in declining order of seriousness (my judgment): The upper deck is farther from the field, the escalators are poorly placed, and it was windy.

If you want to check the place out for yourself without waiting for football season, you’d better like Bon Jovi or the Eagles. Or maybe next Friday’s Mexico-Ecuador soccer game is a better bet, if you don’t mind the Bon Jovi-sized prices.

Jets and Giants race clock to sell out PSLs

Another day, another New York Times story on the state of the sports industry, this one on whether the New York Giants and Jets will be able to sell out their personal seat licenses in time for their new stadium’s opening this fall.

Times writer Richard Sandomir reports that the Giants “are about 1,500 licenses short of selling out but have been at that level for at least two months,” but that a team spokesman says “sales had not hit a wall and were expected to pick up soon.” The Jets, meanwhile, won’t say how many licenses remain, but that sales are “going well.”

Whistling through the graveyard aside, you wouldn’t think that falling a few thousand seats short in an 82,500-seat stadium would make that much difference — that’s what game-day sales are for, right? Except that PSLs add a new wrinkle: Since fans have been told that buying PSLs is the only way to get tickets (or the only way to get good tickets, in the Jets’ case, since they’re offering some PSL-free seats), they’re likely to be awful steamed if they find themselves sitting next to fans who bought seats with no extra fees. That’s what happened in Oakland when the Raiders couldn’t sell out their PSLs and resorted to selling them as regular seats, and that’s a debacle that nobody wants to risk repeating.

If I had to put my money on something, it’d be some quiet discounting of specific PSLs to try to get them to move. (The Jets already cut some prices last month, after earlier price cuts in October.) New York football fans, watch your emails for discount coupon codes…

Giants bid swamp bowl adieu

One of the best ways to get the nostalgic fervor going for an old stadium is to have a “last game” there. The New York Giants played their last game in their old New Jersey Meadowlands home, and the NYC press corps did not disappoint with nostalgic references.

Neil Best of Newsday (link here for Newsday subscribers or those willing to pay to register) described yesterday’s shellacking of the Giants by the Carolina Panthers as “the most embarrassing of their 283 games there,” perhaps overlooking the 1978 Giants/Eagles game where Herm Edwards helped Big Blue snatch deafeat from the jaws of victory in a play Giants fans know as simply “the fumble.” The New York Times was a bit more circumspect, with Joe Lapoint suggesting the 41-9 blowout had “the feeling of a funeral” with more than 78,000 moruners attending the ceremony.

It’s not actually the last game at Giants Stadium, though as that may be played out on Sunday evening, when the Jets take on the Cincinnati Bengals in a game that is sure to fire up the forces of wistful nostalgia once again. The Bengals, many might recall from previous postings on this site, are draining the coffers of Hamilton County, Ohio, as the cost of financing the team’s new “jungle” in the Queen City has caused taxpayers to dip into their pockets more than they were initially led to believe. We’ll see how things work out in the Meadowlands when the new sports palace opens up for the Giants and Jets in 2010. Both teams have set seat license fees to stratospheric levels, so New York metro season ticketholders are likely to be a bit poorer in 2010.

While taxpayers tend to fund professional sports complexes in the U.S. as part of our ongoing support of private enterprise, which for some reason does not pass as “socialism,” our friends to the north are debating how to get ice rinks built for, shockingly, average people to use for their own events and activities instead of for pro team use. An article today’s Globe and Mail says that if a new public rink goes ahead as proposed “it will be one of the few publicly funded arenas to open in Toronto in the last 28 years.” Not sure why 28 years is significant, but the construction of a publicly funded facility for something more than spectatorship sounds like an interesting idea.

Fan sues Jets, Giants over PSLs

It’s way early in the legal process, but a judge has allowed a lawsuit to go forward against against the New York Giants and Jets for requiring personal seat licenses to purchase tickets at their new stadium opening next year. Harold Oshinsky, who somehow has enough money to have been a season ticket holder for both teams for the past 24 years, charges that he has an implicit right to renew his tickets in perpetuity, and can’t be denied that just because he won’t buy a PSL. U.S. District Judge Peter Sheridan didn’t necessarily endorse Oshinsky’s claim, but said he will be allowed to continue with pre-trial depositions and discovery.

Needless to say, if Oshinsky were to win, this would have huge impacts for stadium financing plans, especially in the NFL, where PSLs are most common. That said, Sheridan didn’t sound exactly encouraging in his language, though he did take time to note that ‚Äúit is common knowledge that professional sports franchisees have a sordid history of arrogant disdain for the consumers of this product.‚Äù

Sports bubble watch: Jets slash (some) prices

Another New York sports team is following the Yankees‘ lead in slashing ticket prices, but only for the middle class of seats — though, given the prices being discussed, maybe “the upper-upper-middle class” would be a better way of putting it. (Stadium seating pretty much bottoms out these days at the real middle class.) The New York Jets have announced they’re cutting prices for seats in the Mezzanine Club at their new stadium opening next year, from $400-$500 down to $195-$395. The Mezzanine Club is the middle deck on either side of the field, amounting to about 7,000 of the new stadium’s 80,000 seats.

“The jump from $120 a ticket or $150 a ticket to $400 just put it out of reach for a lot of people who did want to experience the clubs,” Jets VP Matt Higgins told AP. “We came to the conclusion that these prices are really 2007 prices in a 2009 world.”

Bleacher Report, though, notes that you still have to shell out a seat license fee — of between $5,000 and $25,000 per ticket — for the rights to even buy the tickets. Given the trouble the team has had finding buyers for their PSLs — buyers who weren’t just bidding as a publicity stunt, anyway — it’ll be interesting to see if half-price tickets with a $5,000 down payment are any more 2009.

Sports bubble watch: Giants, Jets seats still selling slowly

More on the previously reported difficulties the New York Giants and Jets are having selling tickets at their pricey new stadium opening next year, this time courtesy of the New York Times:

The Giants, who still have seats to sell for some games this season, have not found buyers for about 3,000 club season tickets for 2010, some in the best locations at the highest prices.

And the Jets lag behind the Giants. They said they still had “a few thousand” season tickets remaining for 2009 and were advertising half-season packages…

Jim Lites, a senior consultant contracted by the Giants to sell seats in the new stadium, acknowledged that the recession and the higher ticket costs for 2010 were having a chilling effect.

“There is a point at some price that people won’t purchase a product,” Lites said. “It’s still a bit of sticker shock. There has been some pushback on the price.”…

Albert Cruz of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., had a similar reaction when he was asked to renew his Jets season tickets for next year. He has sat in the fourth row for 25 years, he said. His tickets cost $90.

For next year, he said, he was offered midlevel seats with P.S.L.’s from $8,000 to $9,000 and per-game prices of $400 to $500.

“They’re just too darn expensive,” Cruz said. “As a loyal fan, I feel shafted.”

Both teams say they’ll sell their remaining tickets by next fall, but given that the Giants have already run through what had been a 20-year-plus waiting list, you have to figure they’ll need to resort to price cuts or two-for-one deals to get there. And as we’ve seen before, that tends not to sit well with those who paid full price.