The Packers announced this week that Season Ticket prices are increasing by $7 per regular season game and $4 per preseason game. These increases bring the total cost of a ticket to $109 for the cheapest end zone seat, $122 for a seat from between the goal line to the 20-yard line and $136 for a seat between the 20-yard lines. The Packers also opened up the “Pay as We Play,” option to Gold package members. Pay as We Play is a program that allows season ticket holders to purchase wild card game tickets at a discount, but need to commit (though not pay), by August. This program was introduced initially introduced in response to the 2013 season, when the Packers didn’t sell out a playoff game vs the 49ers until late in the week.
In the announcement, Mark Murphy notes that “We expect this will place us just below the overall NFL average, the figure we use each year to set our prices.” Just below the league average for a team that has been a consistent contender for the past 25 years sounds like a bargain.
The overall increase in prices shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. And the prices are still far below their market value. Even after Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, the price for the worst ticket on the secondary market was more than the cost of the lowest per game price for a season ticket. Prior to the Rodgers’ injury, tickets for the October 22nd Game vs the Saints on the secondary market were 200-250% (for the worst seats) above what the season ticket price is. And early in the year, the Saints game was not considered a premium matchup. Also, it is well documented the waiting list for season tickets stands at around 100,000, further illustrating the demand outpacing supply. In most industries, a more significant price increase would be forthcoming in order to correct this shortage.
It is surprising that the Packers have not yet adopted a variable pricing structure, that over half of NFL teams use now. This structure reflects the reality of the variance in a games desirability. Obviously next year, the Vikings game is more valuable to anyone than the Dolphins. For example last year, a corner end zone seat in Pittsburg cost $165 for games against the Packers and the Patriots while it cost only $111 for the same seat vs the Browns. This makes sense. The may be some logistical challenges to this structure, for the Packers with the two separate sets of season ticket holders and typically it would require the release of the schedule prior to the sale of the tickets. Also, the Packers don’t have a large inceitve, since as stated earlier, all of their tickets are below market value.
Players’ salaries are often conflated with this issue. They are a separate issue as they are effectively determined through the collective bargaining process with the salary cap being set as a % of the NFL’s revenue and clubs have requirements and thresholds they have to meet. i.e. They are required to spend money on players as well, effectively providing a salary floor. The Packers are not increasing prices to pay for anyone’s salary per se, though of course is part of the budgeting and planning process.
The real issue is that the Packers’ net income be healthy enough to reserve for the continued upgrades of Lambeau Field. In the past 25 years, the Packers have had some public financing and also issue more stock. None of these things should be necessary and it would be a shame if they fund it with anything but their own reserves just because they want to avoid the backlash from increasing prices to a level closer to market value.
Any season ticket holder at this point is fortunate that prices are what they are even with the annual increase. They are effectively being gifted significant equity per game per ticket. They should be grateful they have these tickets. And if they aren’t, someone else surely would be grateful to take them off their hands.Originally from Glidden Wisconsin, Jason Straetz is a lifelong Packers\' fan, who has lived in Maine for over 30 years. He is a writer for packerstalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @jsnstz