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The high cost of doing business with the Packers

by Paul Frazer

1402846614000-XXX-USA7531a_WEbIt does seem rather strange, when somebody points a finger at one of the thousands of Green Bay Packers season ticket holders, and proclaims that he or she is carrying out a business transaction eight times during the months of August, September, October, November, and December, and hopefully in January during the National Football League playoffs. That’s right, the price of a game ticket, hot dogs, popcorn, soda, beer, a souvenir, and a game day program, although not quite what one would call negotiable in price, would none-the-less still be termed a business agreement.

There is a loosely penned code of behavior that a Packer season ticket holder is expected to be aware of and abide by, those rules prescribed therein as well as the unwritten laws of etiquette and decorum that govern each of us; this is each and every ticket holder’s responsibility upon entering Lambeau Field.

The Green Bay Packers have a responsibility to their fans as well, starting with stadium maintenance, to the coaching staff, players and the administrative front office of the ball club — each has a certain responsibility that will, in the end, provide Green Bay Packers fans a clean, safe, and enjoyable experience while they are in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field.

A Packers fan has the easiest of jobs, that job is to show up, wearing the customary Green and Gold ready to root the local hero’s to another NFL victory, as the Pack drives for another NFC division title, and another trip to the post season playoffs and the ultimate goal, a Super Bowl appearance.

Of course football is a full time 12 months a year job, especially at the professional level, although the college game has become almost as time consuming. Without a doubt, player procurement is a prime objective, and the professional level game has developed certain criterion that measures the pertinent abilities of physical attributes, that are necessary for a player to fit into a particular type or system, and team.

Without exception, the good teams at the professional level might stress a blitzing defense, or a rock solid defensive line that might enhance the defensive backs. On offense, an Aaron Rodgers type quarterback will need a sound stable of receivers that can catch Rodger’s accurate throws in traffic, run their assigned patterns as well as improvise.

The NFL’s relationship with host cities
There is a little known fact of life in the National Football League that the average fan usually does not think about, or consider. That fact would be how the NFL team deals with a team’s host community, the attitude of the team, its officials, and player personnel and how accessible players might be to the media, or the community at large.

The thousands of man hours that an NFL team’s coaching staff, player procurement personnel, and its scouting bureau devotes to analyzing its players is actually secondary to a team’s public relations department, and their public image. Green Bay is the only city in major professional sports that resides in a city with a population of just over 100,000 inhabitants.

Needless to say the awareness that fans here have towards “their players” is unlike it is for all major sports teams. The players, if single, can be seen coming out of their townhouse apartments, can be observed filling up their vehicle at the gas station, eating at a restaurant, or shopping at a mall.

However, a quick behind the scenes look at a team’s business practices, their wants, desires, and how they negotiate not only with city councils, but with regional and state officials tells a whole lot about the very fiber of a team.

With very few exceptions, NFL teams expect their host communities to help in the construction, or the renovation of their football stadium. Now let me be clear about one thing: I am a football fan and have been my entire life, I kind of understand the semantics of how and why a professional sports team could expect tax abatements, and also expect financial help from the taxpayers.

There’s the old story about how much revenue a renovated stadium, or a new one will mean to a community, and basically I agree with that analogy. But I also understand that there isn’t a huge shift in the entertainment dollar. People only have a certain amount of disposable cash, and if they come to a football game, they won’t be able to go to a hockey match, or basketball game, it’s just the way it is.

Some people will argue that a city gets very little in return from their sports team, and here, I disagree with that thinking. A sporting event is a happening; it’s where people can go to collectively cheer on their team, to feel a sense of accomplishment, and an air of community pride. Of course there are those idiots who figure celebrating their team’s victory is a reason to tip cars over, start downtown fires, pillage and loot.

What people do get from their football team is regional, state, and sometimes even national or international recognition. I’m not sure of the value or importance of the recognition, but it is a residual effect of what a winning professional sports team can mean to a host city.

There’s an effort afoot
I read with interest what the National Football League intended to demand from the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, who will host the 2018 Super Bowl game. Here again, I understand the feeling, or the thinking by the NFL, but I don’t necessarily agree.

Here are just a few tidbits for your information:

  1. Free police escorts for team owners
  2. 35,000 free parking spaces
  3. Presidential suites at no cost in high ended hotels
  4. Free billboards across the Twin Cities
  5. Guarantees to receive all revenue from games tickets sales
  6. Free cars and busses to transport dignitaries

I also have heard that the half-time entertainment, at the 2015 Super Bowl, which will be performed by different musical artists will also be a money maker for the NFL, there’ll be a charge to these artists, that’ll be payable to the National Football League.

Here again, I kind of understand where the NFL is coming from, the wide-spread exposure that anybody that performs during the half-time show at a Super Bowl would get, could not be bought at any price. But you could say the same for a basketball playoff game, or a World Series baseball game, but the NFL seems to be trail blazing when it comes to what they perceive as legitimate revenue maker.

Last year (2013) the Green Bay Packers were the 3rd ranked NFL team in average attendance 77,947, and a total attendance of 623,576. Only Dallas and the New York Giants were better with 88,043 and 80,148 respectfully.

The Packers ticket prices for the upcoming season were adjusted with a raise of $3 per seat throughout the general seating areas. The price hike, according to Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, is designed to be just below the league average, and will put the ball club at 17th in the league regarding to ticket prices.

Of course, you’ve gotta throw in those brats, hotdogs, burgers, popcorn, peanuts, and beer or soda to wash things down and to settle the tummy. In 2013 an NFL fan spent (on average) $322 per home date. Around $209 for game day expenses, ticket, $82, and parking $31. It would seem to me to be a bit pricy, and like I said, “I’m a football fan.”

Professional sports teams are thriving today, even though the nation’s economy is still making a slow recovery, proving (at least to me) how important athletic events are to Americans. I do, however, have a warning for those people who occupy those high offices, and make the decisions on how the league will operate.

Please do not over-saturate television with your product, I mean Monday, Thursday, some Saturdays and Sundays. I think that right now people have reached a point where consideration should be given to exactly how much people can spend at a stadium to watch their favorite team.

For me, I’ll be watching and rooting for the Packers every Sunday except when they play the Detroit Lions. Yup I’m old enough to remember when the Lions last won a championship; it was way back in 1957, some 57 years ago.

Go Pack Go!

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