As Packers fans, we’re aware that one of the hardest tickets in sports to get is for a Packers home game at Lambeau Field. The venerable stadium has been seemingly sold out for every game played there since it was built in 1957, and we’ve all heard the stories about waiting decades to be able to purchase season tickets. As of this season, there are 83,881 names on the Packers season ticket waiting list, and it was reduced by only 126 this past year. At that rate, it will only take you 665 years to have your name on the top of the list, if you register today.
In reality, though, the Packers say it usually takes only about 40 years.
But across the NFL, attendance was down 3% last year, while TV viewership increased. We love our pro football, but for more fans – especially during a recession – the best seat in the house is in your easy chair in front of your big-screen hi-def TV. The NFL is very much aware of that, and at the game’s newest stadium, the home to the Jets and Giants in East Rutherford NJ, it’s a whole new ball game.
The Jets and Giants are offering a free “app” for smart-phone users so they’ll be able to see replays, get stats, and all sorts of content from other NFL games going on that day. The app works only at the new Meadowlands Stadium and it’s good for one game only. The New York Times says over the next few years, the app will also deliver stats on the speed of the players and the ball, and all sorts of other stuff.
The NFL is aware that if it expects fans to still show up for the games, it will have to offer more, or they’ll stop paying the sometimes exorbitant seat-licensing fees on top of the ticket price and stop going. The Jets and Giants are charging annual license fees for season ticket holders ranging from $1,000 to $20,000 per seat, plus the cost of the tickets…which range from $90 for the nosebleed section to $700 for the best seats. (And, that’s for ONE game….not the season.)
The new Meadowlands Stadium invested about a hundred million bucks on new technology, including 500 more wireless antennas to handle the demand; there are 2,200 TV’s scattered all around the stadium; and they’ve installed 48,000 square feet of screens visible from the seats, along with a full-time TV executive to oversee game-day production for the fans.
It’s expected, of course, that other teams will soon be doing the same thing. The NFL is keenly aware that unless it keeps coming up with “extras” like this, the youngest generation of football fans may well just stay home and watch the game on their mobile device, while doing other things.
The game is changing….and so is the way we’ll experience it when we’re actually there.