Is the Game Day Experience Worth the Price?

M and T fans

The official start of training camp with the full array of veterans, injured veterans, rookies and undrafted free agents commences on Thursday, July 25. Perhaps more so than at any time in Ravens history, there is a suddenness to the way this new season has crept upon us.

Maybe as fans we just want to milk the offseason for awhile so that the swagger of defending champions can last a little longer. The sound of those words, “Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens” is music to our ears.

But yesterday, Ravens fans across the region were given a wake-up call that the 2013 season is just around the corner and the defense of the title begins. That wake-up call was the arrival of season tickets.

As much as I enjoy going to the games, I must admit that for the past few seasons I question the investment in these tickets. Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Of course the tailgate parties are outstanding. You reconnect with your neighbors in your respective lots, deepen friendships and make more memories. Yet I can’t help but wonder, “Do I need to go to every game?”

Let’s face it, once the tailgates have closed, coolers are packed and you begin your journey into the stadium, from that point forward the game experience when compared to the alternative of staying home or going to your friendly neighborhood watering hole, pales in comparison, starting with the entrance into the stadium.

Security lines are long and time consuming. With restrictions now tighter than ever, the queue will be even more of a zoo!

Then of course there are the bathroom lines and the concession lines. And let’s not forget the exorbitant costs for a hot dog, a pretzel or a beer.

Once you are in your seat, depending on where you sit, I’d wager that you spend no less than 25% of your time watching the big screens instead of the action on the field. One season I had tickets in the lower level near the corner of the end zone to the east side of the marching band. Whenever the action was on the far side of the field, I watched the big screens all the time.

“Why am I here?”, I sometimes wondered.

At home there are no lines; the parking is more convenient and free; the “concessions” are dramatically less expensive; the bathrooms are cleaner; I can see perfectly in high-def and I can rewind courtesy of my DVR. Plus I can jump to NFL Network’s Red Zone whenever I want to take in action around the league. And when the game is over, there’s no traffic jam between my living room and kitchen.

What I spend in one season to go to the games would foot the bill for weekly parties at my house AND two brand new banging HDTV’s which I get to keep. When I leave the stadium I’m just left with a used ticket that might get me a 25% discount on Ravens jewelry at Smyth, or whatever promo flavor they are serving up that season.

Some might say I’m just getting older and I’ll admit that there might be some of that going on. But really, it just makes more sense to stay home. The technological advances of the at-home experience clearly are outpacing those at M&T Bank Stadium.

Recently I chatted with CBS Sports’ Jason LaCanfora on this very subject.

“This is a primary concern”, said the Baltimore native. “The in-game experience is a huge part of every owner’s meeting and it’s why you’re seeing the move to better Wi-Fi in stadiums, making people able to access fantasy stats at stadiums, why they are adding the ability to watch locker room speeches in stadium, etc.

“The league is worried that all the innovations with how we watch games at homes is out weighing what you get by spending all that money by being there. Goodell is especially focused on committee groups of owners and league officials charged with coming up with new ideas and ways to incentivize fans to come out to games.”

I wonder how many others are questioning the investment. Are you?

What if advances in the at-home experience creates even more distance between the experiences of live games? Might the league start to charge to watch the games at home in order to level the playing field?

Time will tell but with every increase in taxes, every bump in gas prices, every hike in tolls, every extra dollar charged to attend live games becomes more and more noticeable – more painful.

Fans can’t control the taxes, cost of fuel or the McHenry Tunnel tariff. But they can control their discretionary spending.

I suppose I’m not quite at the breaking point to give up on the season tickets yet. But a thought that once had a snowball’s chance is no longer a a blur on the horizon.

With each passing season it grows a little more in focus.

Which offers greater VALUE to you, going to live games or watching at home?
Live at the stadium (41%)
From the comfort of home (59%)
This poll has completed. Thank you for voting.

30 Raves on “Is the Game Day Experience Worth the Price?

  1. Joe Polek on said:

    I agree completely with you. Living out of state, though, I crave the ability to get to a live game each year, and so far I’ve been lucky enough to get to one game a year. But Season Tickets every year? You are right… it’s most cost effective to buy a bigger TV and cheer them on from the comforts of home!

    • greg dean on said:

      I’m in complete disagreement there is nothing like going to an NFL game…the people and surroundings the weather its all apart of the experience…no one is forcing you to tailgate no one is forcing you to buy concessions so those you choose to pay for…I will always rather be at the game then watch at home…its too quiet at home too you gotta feel that crowd noise in live person…and if you can’t afford it then that’s your problem not someone else’s

      • Reading Comments on said:

        Nowhere in the article did the writer say he was being forced. The only thing being forced is your viewpoint.
        You sound like a total jerk! And a perfect fit for the knuckle draggers down there that would ruin the game for people!

      • John on said:

        Kind of a d*ckish response Greg… He makes a good point, which seems to have been lost on you. I agree that being there live can’t really be justified from a logical perspective, being part of the energy in the stadium is amazing. However, I agree going to every game has become kind of pointless. I sold my PSL’s a couple years ago but still make it to 2-3 games per season. I miss having the same seats every game and bonding with those around me but having friends over to watch the game on the big screen in the comfort of my own home with unlimited beer and the bbq going on the deck is hard to compete with.

  2. A540 on said:

    There is absolutely nothing like being there. You can’t replicate the gameday excitement or the civic comaraderie on your couch. Are there issues (cost, weather, slow security, time, etc.)? Of course. I understand that as folks get older, it can be more of a hassle to go every week…and even before then, certain games (Browns and other opponents) become a bit of a chore. But, I find those that say “I’d rather watch on my couch” to be translated “I can’t get tickets.”

  3. bogeyroy on said:

    Great article TL…I am a little older than you, and had Colts season tix from 8 years old till the day they left…and then I hopped right back in with Ravens season tix as soon as they got here. My friend of 50 years plus and I go to the games together and last year we started duscussing how much longer will we keep our tix. We love the 1:00 Sunday games…not so much the 4:15 games and night games…guess it’s the age showing.

    We have been promised more men’s bathrooms from day one…perhaps there are more, but still nowhere near enough…not to mention the pushing and shoving while in line and those that want to sneak in the exit while others do the right thing and wait their turn. Not to mention haow many people I have seen pass out or puke in their seats, which is very disgusting for those of us that came to enjoy the game and the NFL experience.

    The expense of tix and the cost of a beer etc is getting to be a bit much. My wife and I go out to a local watering hole for away games, and have a great time and the cost doesn’t even compare to being at M&T Bank Stadium. I guess my friend and I will once again discuss selling our PSL’s again very soon.

  4. JH on said:

    There’s nothing like being at the game! From tailgate to the 2 min warning, there’s just nothing more exciting than BEING THERE! Those of us that go, without kids, without wives, it’s our church, on Sunday! We can drink, eat, drink and curse openly at the opposing team. Until the family man, thirteen rows down, calls security! But hey, we’re not animals, we realize that his 6 yr old shouldn’t know those words, and we stop! Unless something really F@&ked up happens, then we chant Bull $hit, Bull $hit and the 6 yr old learns a life lesson!!
    I can’t wait for the season to start!!

  5. Captain Offense on said:

    Tony,

    Your analysis and arguments are logical and persuasive as business considerations. There are many financial reasons to stay at home, and in today’s economic climate there are as many reasons to market the tickets as to go to the stadium.

    For me, however, I look at the intangible rewards that I get from being at the stadium. There are people in my section that I would never meet or socialize with otherwise. There are many people on this board that I have met and interacted with that would not happen if I stayed home. Being at the last game that Ray Lewis was playing in the stadium has a value that cannot be reduced to money. Personally experiencing events that occur there create memories that cannot be reduced to cash. Taking it to another level, I am able to travel to places that I may not choose to visit because I can go to a football game. And the Super Bowl experience on a personal level would probably not be justified by the business/cost analysis. In my younger days I spent money that I probably did not have to let my children experience life at a football game. Just as they may be able to travel places on TV or the internet, there is no substitution for the experience itself. All of your complaints are valid ones; but I accept the inconveniences in exchange for the passion of a game day experience.

    I am sure that there will be a time that I will have to give up the event; whether due to finances or simply as a matter of age. But I will not have to say that I wish I had been at a football game.

    • Raving Sports Fan on said:

      Sorry it’s a bit long. My dad had taken me to couple of Colts games in 78 or 79 can’t remember but we won 2 of the 3 I went too even though we sucked back then. I’d only been to one Ravens game before in person 2010 vs Cleveland Upper deck endzone it was great. Found out a co-worker had PSL’s and couldn’t go to the Indy playoff game. Since it was Ray Lewis’s last game I very happily bought her 4 seats in a heartbeat. I couldn’t agree more with you CO that being at the last game that Ray Lewis was playing in the stadium has a value that cannot be reduced to money. Having lost my father in 2011 I sat there wondering why the hell we hadn’t got tickets more often. Well he didn’t really care about football once the Colts left and never became a serious Ravens Fan. But it’s only money & you can’t take it with you. Any way me & my best friend were sitting at the playoff game and said these seats are pretty dam good and easy for me to get to because I use canes to get around. A few days later I told my co-worker I’d be interested if she ever wanted to sell. She owned 3 and someone else owned the 4th and it turns out he was tired of going. So I made an offer & bought his PSL and one of hers at a fair price. So once you get by the PSL investment the price of the tickets isn’t bad every year. You have to decide to not spend money in other places that basically have no real value anyway like going out to eat a little less to get to go to the Ravens game 10 times a year and hopefully 12.
      Yes there are game issues like parking which is way to high and not enough handicapped parking because it’s filled by 10 am and so I’ll probably take the light rail which will probably be chaos but it’s not $45 a game either. Food prices are high but if you tailgate why are you hungry anyway? I don’t drink either so it amazes me how many people spend $8 dollars for a beer at a O’s or Ravens game. Can’t you go to a 3.5 hour game without drinking? You’d worry about the bathroom lines less LOL Plus if you’ve tailgated haven’t you had enough beer ahead of time?
      When I read stories like this it scares me. Yes ticket prices are too high but they are never going to go down. What’s the alternative, to stop going? Do we not remember those dark dark days of Sundays without football?

  6. Mike on said:

    The key word here is value! I have a family of 4 that love going to the games but just to sit all the way upstairs with the birds cost $800+ , I love the atmosphere of the stadium but spending a $1000 at a game isnt a better value then watching it at home and having friends over…

    • Joe on said:

      Mike-You must be club level. I am lower bowl and pay $120 per seat. You can sit in the uppers for less than 1/2 of those $$$s.

  7. Neil B on said:

    Since Buschotti bought the team, ticket prices have gone through the roof. First 5 years mine went from 48/game to 90/game. Granted they have been much better and have performed but once my tickets get to 100/game I am out. Every time ticket prices go up everything else does too. They really put the stones to you. 45$ for parking? 8 bucks for a beer? Nothing is going to happen until people stop going and that is not going to happen.

    • DC Ravens' Fan on said:

      Sorry Tony you are the man and a great friend, but I disagree. Neil, you do not need to pay $45 for parking. The price to see an entire season of Ravens’ games is a bargain compared to other sports. Tickets to baseball (in other towns), basketball and hockey are actually the same or even more per seat per game than football which blows me away because those sports have somewhere between 41-81 home games. I am not trying to be disrespectful, but most sports fans across the country who attend multiple sporting events would say owning season tickets for football in Balt is dirt cheap. And if you disagree, we/Balt fans cannot play with the big boys and most of the country. A season ticket for the NHL, NBA or MLB is about $4K per seat for the season. So four seats would be $16K for the season excluding playoffs. Nats tickets are $100+ per seat per game (not kidding), more than twice the price of the O’s to be in lower box seats. That’s $8,100 per season per ticket for the Nats. A full season per ticket is around $1,000 for the Ravens. That’s incredibly cheap by comparison. The Ravens and their owner have given us many incredible sport memories during the last 12 years. If you and others don’t want to support the Ravens, then don’t cry or complain when they leave town again. I love the town of Balt, but if we cannot support an NFL team with only 10 games a season, we don’t deserve to have professional franchises in our town. I like to think we are a better town including sports town than Cleveland or Cinn. Comments like these really make me wonder. I hate $hittsburgh’s football and their NHL team, but they have crazy support and remain LOYAL (yes caps because loyalty is huge) to their teams in good or bad years. It is hard to fathom this conversation in Balt after having a historic season. Cleveland has had horrific teams and ongoing problems, but their fan support does not waiver. I cringe at the thought of attendance in Balt if the Ravens were a bad team. We are extremely fortunate to have the franchise/team we have, in a great stadium located in the heart of a city with MANY great pre and post game options. Other cities like DC, Boston and many others have horrific venues (concrete jungles not in a town with no pre or post game options) in bad locations with MAJOR traffic issues yet their fan support remains strong. I hope we don’t have to rely on the failure of the skins to continue causing more skins/DC fans to convert to Ravens’ fans to provide the support our franchise needs and deserves. I have heard you see Ravens apparel everywhere at college park which was not the case with the colts and old skins. Young DC people see what a gem we have in Balt and are flocking to our town for games and the pre and post game fun. I don’t want to see a Balt./ Wash Ravens team like the Bullets. Split tickets with a neighbor or family member, but somehow support OUR team. We lost an NFL franchise once, please don’t take this kind of foolish attitude and contribute to it happening again.

  8. Steve on said:

    I do not see a time when I will ever give up my tickets for the “at home” experience. “Value” is the key word in the poll. I value the comraderie, the excitement, the energy, and feel that i am getting my money’s worth. My wife and I love going, and miss the stadium when it’s an away game.

    I am in the upper deck, however, and wonder if some people in the pricier seats, where you can’t see the entire field, may feel differently. I only look at the video boards between plays for replay. If I spent half of the game watching the boards, i may feel differently paying that much for those seats.

  9. Anchors on said:

    I have a 60″ plasma with surround sound and leather recliners.
    i make all the gameday edibles including wings, ribs, steak, beer and drinks.
    I’ve been to the games and frankly I get a much better experience at home with friends.

  10. Eric on said:

    I see all of your points TL, and I have given thought to those same things. However, my 9 year old son started going to the games with me last year; and these are priceless memories for me. He got to see Ray Lewis in his last game at home and we went to the Super Bowl together. As a PSL and season ticket holder ever since the team arrived, I have not missed one home game. Been to all of them.

    There are some negatives about watching on TV. The announcers are mostly annoying, as they don’t know the team as well as you and I do. I grow tired of the advertisements, the previews of upcoming shows, and the constant break-away to action in other NFL games.

    For me, I prefer to be at the stadium.

  11. Reading Comments on said:

    Interesting that most people are taking the side of attending the games.
    The people that that wouldn’t attend are probably working and don’t have the money or the time to comment otherwise.
    I will always watch at home. Don’t like crowds.

  12. AJ on said:

    The game day experience…….The food and drink prices are high, but I don’t buy them. The stadium could use more bathroom urinals and stalls, but I try not to use them unless I am desperate. The view is not as good as what the television networks provide, especially when some inconsiderate fool stops dead at the railing in front of you and blocks out half the field, but I deal with it rationally. The entry lines are too long, but I go in an hour ahead of time. Getting to your seat requires you to be in top physical shape if you have fifth level seats, but I consider it as a great form of exerciise. With all that said, I highly value the experience of attending games. The energy and noise level at a Ravens home game is incredible, especially night games or playoffs. There is nothing like it.

  13. Paul Lukoskie on said:

    There is nothing like being at M&T during a live game. I was lucky to be able to go to Ray Lewis’ last home game against Indy in the playoffs and that is something I will never forget. I was also at the Thursday night Cleveland game last year in the pouring rain, right in section 153. I was soaked, but it was awesome. From the pre-game warm-ups, to the tail gating, to the National Anthem, all the way to the final whistle…there really is nothing that compares to being at a Ravens game with nearly 100,000 other fans.

    However, I can completely understand why many may choose to stay home. You figure for the cost of season tickets one could probably buy a sweet big screen TV, nice surround sound, couches/chairs, and have a good chunk of change left over to buy beer and food for their family and friends. Even more so, that set up is good for more than just the Ravens games. You can enjoy movies, video games (if you’re into that), and many other sporting events all on the same set-up.

  14. Fran the Fan on said:

    Tony, I confess to thinking the same thing. But I’m not there – yet. For a variety of reasons. First, I still have my health. Second, taking Light Rail is a big plus for me. (no $40 parking), but it’s the seats I have that keep me coming back in spite of the fact the price has more than doubled in the 12 years I’ve had the tickets. Corner endzone seats on the end of a row, steps from an exit ramp, which is conveniently next to a men’s room, admidently make my game day experience a lot more palatable than someone who sits in the upper deck in the middle of a row.

    Yet at some poiint i know even these amenities will wear on me and either my wallet or my body will finally say Enough. But I’m thinking about it more and more.

  15. Tgun#42 on said:

    There is nothing like the Raven expirience Live. I have lived out of town for the past 13 years and I make a trip twice a year to see the Ravens live. One trip at home and one on the Road. Now I have the biggest TV you can get and all the surround sound jazz in my ultimate game room. But nothing , i mean nothing is like being around thousands of fans in Purple. The smell of Pit Beef. The roar of the crowd, the move those chains chants! The boost our team gets from playing in the bank to a sold out stadium that scares the heck out of the opposition. There is nothing like live Ravens games in this world. Maybe because I live on the other side of the country I can truly appreciate what others take for granted. But hearing “OHHHH” during the national anthem gets my blood going like nothing else!

  16. Mista T on said:

    Totally disagree with Tony. I have always perceived the stay at homers as casual fans, not really into Ravens support as the fans in the stands. After attending every game since 1996, I missed a few last season due to health; watching those games at home, with all the fancy electronics, still felt like going to a funeral home that attending a game.

      • Reading Comments on said:

        Is there a stat that states only 5% of Football Fans actually attend games?
        Comments by this character T keep me from joining this site. What for when I can listen to the same 10, 20 people blab, just like most internet talk forums, and rarely have anything at all to add.

  17. JerryB on said:

    Considering the fact that the stadium isn’t large enough to hold ALL the fans, exclaiming that “stay at homers” are somehow “casual fans” is a bit disingenuous to say the least. Just a matter of time before “Pay-For-View” is required to watch games on TV……..

  18. Rumor Ray on said:

    TL, I think it really comes down how we enjoy the game as we get older. I used to go to every game. I had a ticket in section 111 and then purchased 2 in 113. For a 1pm game I would get to the Stadium at 7am to get free parking on the street. As some of you on here might know I was a vendor outside the stadium so we had to set up early to be ready for the fans. I enjoyed getting up early and getting ready for the full day event. The money was good and we sold a honest value product selling $5.00 tee shirts that were game day themed with out violating the Ravens or NFL Logos. We made around $1.00 per shirt and more fun walking around selling them and meeting everyone. I used to say that I was the Lucky Fan at the game every week. I got free parking, never needed to purchase a beer or food and went home with cash in my pocket after every game.

    I enjoyed the games and more importantly the friends I had met outside and inside the stadium. Watching the team get announced, Ray Lewis Dance and screaming DON’T BE A JERK! made watching the game live way better then watching at home. Watching at home I have learned to deal with my family thinking I am nuts for standing up on 3rd down or for screaming Move those Chains …. move those chains….. when we get a 1st Down.

    I sold my PSL in 113 a couple years ago and it was a hard choice, however it was time to allow a new generation the chance have the Real Fun of attending NFL Games

  19. Baltimore410 on said:

    Being at home has it advantages , with technology booming . It won’t be long before you’ll be watching the game Hologram style. I enjoy being at home because of the added perks you get. Rewind, Flip through channels during a timeout, etc Season tickets not soo much but attend at least one game should do it.

  20. john schultheis on said:

    Tony, this article did what you want from your articles to do fan reactions!! What is important to note is what the majority of fans responses are, which is they love going to games and there is nothing like in stadium experiences. Yes I too went to many COLT games and never missed one from early 50′s to the drunk moved the team. For years now I watch games on TV at my age now, but never the same even if in the comfortable easy chair! WHAT WILL BE THE KEY IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS IS,HOW MANY YOUNGER FANS ARE WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE OF ALL THAT IS INVOLVED IN GOING TO NFL GAMES?
    Winning actually is an important element as to how many fans “League wide” go to games. Yes Ravens Eagles, Dallas, Giants, Redskin fans along with Green Bay fans may go no matter teams records but how many other NFL teams with cost of tickets and now with TV coverage with Direct TV??

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