The NFL – TV Experience vs. Stadium Experience

On a recent national telecast, Commissioner Roger Goodell mentioned in an interview that television might be hurting the NFL’s live gate and that was an area of concern for the league regarding the future of the game. (This came during a nighttime telecast, but I did not write down the date or the game so I cannot give a full context here.) The reason I found his remarks interesting is that I have been preaching for years that NFL games on TV are significantly more enjoyable than NFL games at the stadium. Moreover, watching NFL games on TV is a whole lot cheaper than watching NFL games at the stadium.

Since I am in a helpful mood this morning, let me try to explain the situation to Commissioner Goodell and he can use a mnemonic to remember the factors here by remembering the letter “C”. The first factor is Cost:

    Game tix to NFL games have become very expensive. Getting a really good seat – one that might allow a view of the game comparable to the camera shots provided by the networks – in most NFL stadiums will cost upwards of $100 a seat. Not a lot of folks opt to go to NFL games alone so the minimum cash outlay for decent seats is $200 and it could be as high as $400.

    Oh, I forgot to mention that in some cities, I would have to buy a Personal Seat License costing tens of thousands of dollars just for the privilege of buying that $100 – 200 ticket to get a seat at the game.

    Parking can cost $35 – 50. One has to wonder what kind of upkeep expenses there must be to justify that kind of fee for parking on a tarmac surface…

    Purchasing food or drink in the stadium is a stunning event. There is a good reason why stadiums have dozens of ATMs in them; one can easily go through a bankroll at the concession stands.

The next factor is Convenience:

    Before and after one pays that $35-50 fee to park one’s car, there is traffic – and for most stadiums, there is a lot of traffic. A friend who used to have season tix to the Redskins bought one of those small TVs that he could run off his car battery/alternator and he would sit in the parking lot to watch the first half of the late afternoon game before he even thought about trying to drive home. There are probably some stadiums with viable public transit options for fans but that is not the case for all of them.

    It is commonplace to wait in line to go to the bathroom in the stadium; I do not know about your home, but that just does not happen in my home.

The last factor is Comfort:

    On a bright and sunny Fall afternoon, watching football at the stadium is a joy. Mother Nature does not always offer such weather. My living room has a far more predictable – and comfortable – “climate”.

    Friends with whom I watch a game in my home – or in their home – are not going to get belligerently drunk. Oh, by the way, those same belligerently drunk fans are the ones getting behind the wheel in all those cars in those parking lots that empty out into the traffic jams around the stadiums…

    To put the icing on the cake for some families that might want to take kids to see games, they face the uncertainty of “flex-scheduling”. That is done at the behest of the networks so they can have “the best games” on the air. Fine; I have no quarrel with that – – but Mr. Commissioner, taking a game that was supposed to be on a Sunday afternoon at 1:00 PM and moving it to Sunday night at 8:30 PM changes the dynamic if a kid has to be in school the next day. It could be 1:00AM Monday morning before the kid gets to bed…

Some of these things can be fixed; others cannot. If you and the owners want to fix some of them, the task is at hand. However, without making some changes that will reduce the flow in some of the revenue streams, the “TV experience” will continue to get better; and as you recognize, it already enjoys a lot advantages over the “stadium experience”.

The Sporting News did a poll of NFL players and named the Jets’ Rex Ryan as the most over-rated coach in the NFL. That completes a trifecta for Ryan. Until the results of that poll hit the streets, he had to settle for being the most self-aggrandizing coach in the league and the most self-delusional coach in the league.

Last week, the Los Angeles Lakers began the season by losing four of their first five games. Ownership felt compelled – after 5 games – to give coach Mike Brown a vote of confidence. Then in what was only a tad longer than the blink of an eye, the Lakers fired Mike Brown. [Actually, it was about 48 hours…] They hired Mike D’Antoni to replace Brown, which means that the Lakers will score a lot more points this year than they did last year – and they will give up a lot more points too. It should not take Lakers’ fans too long to recognize that D’Antoni thinks “defense” is a four-letter word.

The NY Mets parted company with Jason Bay who never quite lived up to the expectations that the team or the fans had for him. Bay is good player but his contract was one that should only attach to a great player. In 2013, Bay will receive $21M from the NY Mets not to play baseball for them. Do not resent the fact that he had such a contract; shake your head in amazement at the fact that the Mets thought that he would be worth that kind of money in the first place.

Finally, here is an item from Brad Rock in the Deseret News:

“If things go as hoped for Utah State, the Aggies will represent the WAC in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl next month.

“The bowl officially and prominently bills itself as ‘the nation’s longest-running outdoor cold-weather bowl.’

“Isn’t that like selling oneself as the nation’s No. 1 maker of zero-gravity leisure wear?”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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  • David Egbert  On November 12, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    You can say the same about baseball. I believe the issue in Tampa Bay is more about cost, less but still $l00 a game for a family four, and TV than it is about the stadium.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm

      David Egbert:

      Welcome back. Have not heard from you in a while…

      Another difference between baseball and football is that TV revenue for the NFL dwarfs stadium revenue but it is the stadium revenue that separates the “rich teams” from the “less rich teams”. That is not the case in baseball mainly because teams play 81 home dates in baseball as opposed to only 8 in pro football.

      Obviously, there are some stadiums that are far better than others in all sports. I have never been to either of the Tampa stadiums but the baseball park has a “less-than-laudatory” reputation.

  • rugger9  On November 12, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Jason Bay was a rising star for the Pirates if I remember correctly when the Mets snapped him up at the first free agency opportunity. My equally-long-suffering lady is from Pittsburgh, and indeed the teams were dreadful even if PNC Park was great, the food too. Perhaps it is my imagination,but is there something in the NYC water that makes athletes think they’ve “arrived” and then they slack off? Usually the Yankees are immune, but the other teams seem to go through this kind of attitude.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 12, 2012 at 3:35 pm


      Jason Bay indeed began his MLB career with the Pirates but he made a stop in Boston playing for the Red Sox before signing his huge contract with the Mets.

  • rugger9  On November 12, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    You can extend the cost comments to college as well. The new Memorial Stadium is nice, a pretty decent job was done keeping the essence of the place, but even then PSLs by whatever name are creeping in. It’s bad enough that San Jose State is getting into the act. Because of the costs I actually gave up my Cal season tix for SJSU, keeping my toe in for the Big Game. If anything the scheduling shenanigans are worse for college games.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm


      Agree the “scheduling shenanigans” for NCAA football are at least as bad as the ones for the NFL. Somehow, those scholar-athletes who play away games on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights do not miss classes or exams – – but putting in a playoff system would be an academic catastrophe. Got that? right!

      I remember reading a while ago that Cal was spending a ton of money on renovations for Memorial Stadium but I do not recall the number. My recollection was that it was in the “9-figure range”.

  • sidewalk cafe guy  On November 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I have yet to have anyone vomit right before entering the TV room, a routine experience at FedEx Field, and I feel comfortable watching the games with kids and not having to define the multiple profane words heard during a game.

    Yes, I much prefer the home experience.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 14, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      sidewalk cafe guy:

      Welcome aboard.

      My family room must be very much like your TV room because that is the ambiance of my home as well as yours.

      I once was most upset at a play call in a game that I was watching by myself and let out a string of epithets at the TV screen that were loud enough to be heard by my long-suffering wife in the kitchen. She calmly walked into the family room and told me that she had heard all of those words but could not recall ever hearing them in that sequence before. Since that time, I have tried to be far more civil toward my unlistening TV set…

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