The NFL would have everyone believe that were being benevolent in granting three teams extensions on the deadline for selling tickets for home playoff games.
The Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals were all granted 24-hour extensions on Thursday, meaning that if all playoff tickets are not sold by 5 p.m. ET on Friday, local TV blackout restrictions will apply.
The NFL will give the excuse that by granting the extension, it will give fans at home the chance to view the important games on quality HD televisions and internet access in comfort.
That all may be true, but there’s much more to it than that.
In reality, the NFL has had a difficult time pushing fans to buy tickets for various reasons. As much as it gives the sport complete access to all televisions across the country if all games are sold out, fans have been reluctant in part to help sell out games because of their experience at the game itself.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert noted on Twitter that there are specific reasons fans won’t pass through the turnstiles at various NFL stadiums hosting playoff games.
Seifert received quite a few replies to his statement, with many fans giving a valid reason why they won’t shell out big money to attend.
The two main reasons are pretty simple—money and drunks.
Several teams in the NFL have a policy in place for season-ticket holders that also make it prohibitive for fans to fork over extra money for playoff tickets as well.
Many teams will send an invoice to season-ticket holders well in advance of the playoffs for postseason tickets. In most cases, two rounds of ticket purchases are required, and of course at inflated prices. Payment is then required up front, and fans are credited back if the team fails to gain a home playoff gain. In that case, the moneys paid for playoff tickets is used as a credit for next season’s season-ticket costs.
For a team like the Green Bay Packers, it was a dicey proposition for many fans to shell out the extra dough, especially when the team was going through a rough patch in late November and playing without star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. For many, it simply made no sense to fork over extra disposable income for games that might not take place.
It also doesn’t help that if season-ticket holders refuse to purchase playoff tickets, their season ticket is then cancelled, and it can in some cases take six months for them to receive any refunds on purchases.
As much as finances are part of the problem, drunken behavior is obviously a big reason as well. Violence at two stadiums this season was likely alcohol-fueled. Three fans were stabbed in a Sports Authority Field parking lot in mid-December following a game, and another fan passed away following an altercation in a parking lot at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City in early December.
These two incidents clearly leave a black eye on the face of the NFL and its teams. And fans with children are going to be far less inclined to shell out the big money required to purchase season tickets, or even single-game tickets, especially when safety is at issue.
Many fans would simply rather enjoy the game experience in the comfort of their own homes in front of a high-definition television, inviting friends over and imbibing in their favorite adult beverages and various snacks in leisure.
The NFL needs to work a whole lot harder to enhance the viewing experience for fans at its stadiums, by dealing harshly with drunk fans, by reviewing its playoff ticket purchase policies and by coming up with better ways to entice fans to root for the home team in person.
The current situation is simply not acceptable, and fans in Cincinnati, Green Bay and Indianapolis shouldn’t have to suffer through a blackout as a result.