Falcons, NFL collecting for season tickets despite lockout

Falcons fans: Rise up! Or is that pay up? (Apologies for the Cheeseheads in picture).
Falcons fans: Rise up! Or should that be: Pay up? (Apologies for Cheeseheads in the picture).

While NFL owners and players continue to battle over how to divide $9 billion – and who among us hasn’t had to deal with that problem at least twice a week? – teams are employing a curious strategy to show how much they feel your pain.

They’re taking your money.

There are no football games being played right now. So in theory fans haven’t lost anything yet. But with the NFLPA decertifying as a union and the owners now in court, facing potential antitrust violations, it’s safe to assume that the April 28-30 draft (at least the joy of it) and free agency will be affected in some way. Games may be canceled. That uncertainty alone means fans are affected.

Nonetheless, teams are mandating payment for season tickets. New England is the most greedy team, mandating that fans pay for ticket packages in full by the end of March. Then again, the Patriots require the cash flow — they buy more video equipment than anybody else.

The most fan-friendly team: the New York Giants. They’re not asking for a nickel until a new collective bargaining agreement is in place. (It’s worth noting that collecting several thousand dollars up front for personal seat licenses in their new stadium last season eases the blow.)

Every other team has some policy that requires collecting money now. That includes the Falcons. They have different payment plans but all required the first payment to be made by Feb. 11 – which was three weeks before the CBA expired. Tickets must be paid for in full by June 1.

Granted, teams would refund ticket holders (plus an annual simple interest rate of 1 percent) for lost games.

But isn’t there something wrong with this picture? Is there any other business that requires you to pay for a product ahead of time, with no guarantee that the product will exist?

“That’s a fair question,” said Reggie Roberts, the Falcons’ vice president of communications. “We’re operating as if there’s going to be a season. We’re operating under the assumption there won’t be any lost games. If games are lost, then we have a plan in place.”

Roberts said the Falcons’ plan stems from  the league’s recommendation. Kudos to the Giants for doing better than that. Everybody else gets a thumbs down.

I’ve contacted several Falcons season-ticket holders about the policy. Many didn’t have an issue with it, either because they believe a full season will be played and/or they have an affinity for owner Arthur Blank.

“I understand some people may not like the fact that they pay for a season that may not take place, but I’m really not one to complain,” Tony Blair said. “Blank has always done right by the organization, and that means a lot to me.”

But not all agree.  One, who did not want to be quoted, expressed discomfort about having already paid the family’s $3,600 bill in full.

Another, Tandy Turner, was more to the point.

“I honestly don’t think  I should have to pay for tickets and not know if they’re even going to play a game this season,” he said. “To be honest, this whole lockout has kind of left a bitter taste in my mouth. The way I look at it, the economy is already awful. There are so many people out of work. Yet we find a way to save up and pinch pennies to afford these tickets and buy our hats and jerseys, and these same players and owners who make millions of dollars kick us in the gut and have this lockout. “

Well said. Throughout these CBA talks, there have been comments from both sides about how their concern for fans rises above everything else. Of course, that’s not true. Winning the battle is.

Nobody should have to pay while this is going on. Season ticket deposits are not paying salaries right now, they’re paying legal bills.

By Jeff Schultz

– Earlier: Tennessee still botching Bruce Pearl firing (or lack thereof)

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

116 comments Add your comment

vmguru

March 17th, 2011
3:47 pm

Millionaires vs. billionaires – I’m startiong to not care about the NFL…

vmguru

March 17th, 2011
3:49 pm

Everybody must be watching basketball Jeff – no other comments yet!

MightyQuinn

March 17th, 2011
3:53 pm

Tony Blair, former British PM, is a Falcons season ticket holder? Wow! How cool is THAT? ;)

vmguru

March 17th, 2011
3:54 pm

As long as people keep coming back to the NFL despite how the owners and players treat the fans (i.e. no regard for who gave them their popularity and $) the owners and players will keep giving the fans the shaft. A little season ticket cancelling would get their attention.

Sage of Bluesland

March 17th, 2011
3:55 pm

I stopped subsidizing this type of behavior years ago; I prefer my hard-earned dollar stays in my pocket, where it belongs.

I refused to pay for Keith Brooking’s overinflated salary and ankle-tackles-eight-yards-downfield….and the feeling kept.

Life goes on–and my bank account thanks me every year…

PMC

March 17th, 2011
3:56 pm

Another reason I don’t see the value in season tickets.

Owners, players and the league are a business. They could care less about the meat in the seats (or at home watching) as long as that meat is there paying them money.

Being a season ticket holder is like being a mark. I’ve loved these teams since childhood, but we need to remember to treat them the way that they treat us. Generally… that’s lousy.

I’d rather go to a couple of games and sit in really good seats than pay exorbitant amounts for 10 games of which 2 are simply stolen money for the owners.

vmguru

March 17th, 2011
3:58 pm

Maybe they need that upfront money for season tickets to rebuild all the bridges they are burning!

PMC

March 17th, 2011
3:59 pm

The only reason the NFL is so good on TV… is because people are packing those stadiums. It wouldn’t be as interesting if you heard crickets on the TV broadcast or saw a lot of empty seats.

Would love to see those guys suffer empty stadums though it’s not going to happen.

chuck

March 17th, 2011
4:00 pm

I don’t care if they never play another game!

vmguru

March 17th, 2011
4:00 pm

Too much “Thank you sir may I have another.”

Native Georgian

March 17th, 2011
4:06 pm

They don’t realize that if they force the fans to skip the preaseason and not pay full price for those meaningless games that they may be setting a precedent!

And at the end of the day the fans will be treated like ’special teams’… that 3rd element that can make or break the game but get NO respect! Their bickering will lead to higher prices for US- THE FANS next year & beyond! Who won?

The Fallen

March 17th, 2011
4:06 pm

They are saying that they are preparing for a season and requiring payment as such. What it, however, they do provide a season full of replacement players? No mention of that, but I would be plenty pi…mad if I paid full price and ended having to sit in an empty stadium and watch a bunch of second rate players play a very watered version of the NFL. I had tix for 13 years and finally punted on the Patino hire, but being required to pay one red cent right now would drive me to give up my seats all over again. Someone said it earlier..millionaires v billionaires. They aren’t worried about food and gas prices. They live in a alternate universe. For now, I will watch on TV but they are dangerously close to losing me.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 17th, 2011
4:10 pm

change the name to the NGL
The National GREED League.

Ted Striker

March 17th, 2011
4:11 pm

“Eases the blow.” Ah, Jeff. You wax poetic even when you’re not even trying.

Heath

March 17th, 2011
4:13 pm

“That mean a lot to me,” not “That means alot to me.”

Hated to do it Jeff, but think of the kids.

Hillbilly Deluxe

March 17th, 2011
4:14 pm

They’ll pay 1% if they refund your money but I’m betting they’ll be making more than 1%, while they hold it. Anybody who gives them money, pretty much deserves whatever they get.

Ridiculous

March 17th, 2011
4:16 pm

Great quote from a fan the Patriots article in the link: “I’m a fan, but if the NFL doesn’t play, I have a family, kids, a job, and football will just fade into the background,” he said. “It will be the biggest $10 billion mistake in the history of mankind as far as I’m concerned.”

As much as America and myself wants & loves NFL football, it’s not like there is any shortage of things that we can spend our hard-earned money on. Discretionary income is just that!

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 17th, 2011
4:33 pm

how is smoltz doing in valdosta anybody know ?

Rodney Dangerfield

March 17th, 2011
4:36 pm

If only the fans would go on strike, it would curtail alot of the greed! Unfortunately Americans, including myself, are sport addicts, and no matter how disgruntled we seem, the owners and players know that we’re like sheep, we’ll come right back. Out here in the real world, we’ve had our benefits and jobs reduced or even eliminated, but the rich will always want more. We don’t get no respect!

P Rose

March 17th, 2011
4:37 pm

Just 16 more days till Opening Day!

Reid Adair

March 17th, 2011
4:39 pm

That’s simple. They know that this won’t last. The owners can’t afford it, and neither can the players. They’ll play football in 2011.

P Rose

March 17th, 2011
4:40 pm

Charlie Sheen’s first two tour dates, in which he is taking his tired act on the road, both sold out in minutes. That tells you all you need to know.

Dawgfan79

March 17th, 2011
4:40 pm

This is will be my 4th season as a season ticket holder.

I’m hoping they miss the preseason games that we are forced to pay full price that bo one even goes to.

I am also hoping this chases some fans away so I can move up a few rows : )

JSS

March 17th, 2011
4:45 pm

And you people complain about paying taxes for schools and local health care (trauma centers); but you’ll loan a billionaire millions of dollars and only 1% return when he finally returns your money? Good luck with that genius thinking!

Rodney Dangerfield

March 17th, 2011
4:52 pm

Reid, you are dead on. All of this is simply hardball negotiating to get the best deal possible. They’ll both point fingers, and cry about how the other side is being unfair, but the real losers are the fans. As soon as they get what they want, the owners and players will be pals again, probably about the time it looks like the season will be canceled. Tickets are already through the roof, and will continue to soar, as long as we’re dumb enough to pay it.

Brent

March 17th, 2011
4:53 pm

I was a Braves season ticket until 1994 and never went back after the strike. I have been a Falcon season ticket holder for 20 years and if this season doesn’t happen, then guess what? Bye-bye Birdies too.

Rodney Dangerfield

March 17th, 2011
4:58 pm

I’m with you Brent. I can remember how the players, owners, and even announcers just couldn’t understand why alot of the fans just wouldn’t come out and support their local teams.

Brent

March 17th, 2011
5:04 pm

I’m just waiting for some rocket scientist player to step up say what Tom Glavine did in ‘94, that the “fans don’t really pay our salaries, the sponsors do”. Guess Tommy thought the sponsors print their own money. That’s the mentality we’re dealing with here.

Jeff Schultz

March 17th, 2011
5:05 pm

VMGuru — Or dare we say, working? Naaaaaw.

Paul in RDU

March 17th, 2011
5:07 pm

Looks like the owners are making sure they have full pockets when Judge Doty enforces his ruling that they need to put this year’s TV money in escrow.

jerry

March 17th, 2011
5:24 pm

I would be glad ot buy a season pass……………… but I can’t afford the gas.

Jerry

March 17th, 2011
5:35 pm

I remember what the caller also told Glavine on the radio back then, he told him,to go get a REAL job, and that tore that @ss up…………..

Ken Stallings

March 17th, 2011
5:48 pm

The answer is for the season ticket holders to simply refuse to pay and tell the teams to cancel their seat licenses and all that other nonsense!

Money talks people, especially when it makes that sucking sound when people take it back!

Ron

March 17th, 2011
5:48 pm

The owners need the players more than the players need the owners. But at the end of the day I don’t need any of them. College football doesn’t go on strike. Neither does high school football. So you greedy owners and players we really don’t need you. If you want to play, fine! If not, few people really care.

Jeff Schultz

March 17th, 2011
5:48 pm

Ted Striker — Oh, Striker. Striker, Striker, Striker.

Jeff Schultz

March 17th, 2011
5:49 pm

Heath — Thanks. For the kids, I mean.

Jeff Schultz

March 17th, 2011
5:49 pm

Hillbilly Deluxe — No kidding. I’d like to pay 1 percent on my visa.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 17th, 2011
5:50 pm

“Then again, the Patriots require the cash flow — they buy more video equipment than anybody else.”

LMAO… that was a good one.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 17th, 2011
5:51 pm

Also, it’s pretty surprising to see Tony Blair side with management. I thought he was all about labo(u)r.

Falcon fan

March 17th, 2011
6:10 pm

No body is making you buy tickets..you have a choice. Its called free enterprise. Screw the Union.

Larry

March 17th, 2011
6:13 pm

When the Falcons declared a lockout of players (and I am not pro players), they expressly stated that there will not be player participation until an agreement was reached. The honorable thing to do that is consistent with this move is to suspend the sale and payment expectations of their customers until an agreement is reached.

As a long time STH, my question is why are you expecting my to meet payment deadlines during a lockout period? Wouldn’t this be like Delta selling seats for airplanes that for one reason or another are suspended from flying?

Stinger2

March 17th, 2011
6:26 pm

If fans don`t have anything better to do with their money, let the owners take it.

Brandon

March 17th, 2011
6:55 pm

The power is in your hands fans…if it bothers you don’t pay it and don’t get season tickets. They have to treat this like it’s a normal season until games are lost. I don’t think this is a problem. If fans are really disgusted they just shouldn’t buy tickets. This would speak louder and hurt the owners and players more than anything

Hurt Kurbstreit

March 17th, 2011
7:02 pm

I’m a Falcons season ticket holder and I paid my first two installments so I could get good seats for the playoff games. A lot of good that did. But I’m okay with it all. I believe there will be a season and I trust the Falcons to do me right.

reality

March 17th, 2011
8:13 pm

I have been going to Falcon games for 18 years. Get there one hour before kickoff and leave after the last second ticks off and yell on every down. Now that the millionaires and billionaires can’t figure out how to divide up the NINE BILLION dollars, I think I’ll find a new way to spend my $6000.
Let them fill my seats with corporate sponsors that get there in the second quarter, sit on their hands and leave at the end of the third. Good night GOLDEN GOOSE!

Dawg A

March 17th, 2011
8:28 pm

I have six season tickets and my next payment is due on April 1. I have no choice to but to continue and pay. And that is wrong! Arthur is a idiot and once again is only concerned about the mighty buck! Arthur I am certain either you or one of your goons read these blogs….. do the right thing and say we don’t have to pay anything until it is settled!
If it doesn’t get settled and it might not…. you have the interest! That is wrong!!
Oh by the way the lame letter you sent doesn’t work with me!!!!

P. Bull Terrier

March 17th, 2011
8:49 pm

I wonder where I can get a copy of the NFL season ticket holder mailing list. I’m selling a great new product that everyone will want. I don’t know exactly what the product is or when, or even if, it will be available, but I would like to collect payment now and worry about the rest of the details later. NFL season ticket holders seem like the perfect customers for my business model.

reality

March 17th, 2011
8:51 pm

hey A DAWG what about the letter you got in January from Blank and Roger where Roger said something to the effect he would work night and day to get a deal done. My interpretation just send us your money, it will all work out

Dawg A

March 17th, 2011
8:57 pm

Reality…. forgot about that one! They may very well get an agreement done but if they don’t then they have hijacked my money! I called the Falcons today and they told me that if I stop making payments then I would lose the close to 2,200 I have already paid! So yes they are holding the trump card!
The fair thing to do would be to say we are not collecting anymore money until it is settled and then the remaining balance is due! I am a huge football fan so I am willing to pay the ticket price but this is just wrong!

FalconFansAreDumb

March 17th, 2011
9:13 pm

Falcons fans must be desperate for entertainment…..sorry team 90% of the time and famously poor management 100% of the time. This is why the owners and players do not care about anything but money….they do not have to!! Suckers!!