While there are arguable pros and cons to going to see a football game in the era of NFL Red Zone and HD Television, the immediacy of a live sporting event still offers an experience that can’t be replicated from the couch, no matter how astonishing the league’s production values are or how much easier it is to just watch the game at home. Ticket prices for games reflect that, of course, which is part of the reason the NFL is so insanely profitable.
The wild variation between average ticket prices is easily explained, too, since it correlates almost entirely with recent successes or consistent regional support — even though Green Bay doesn’t make the cut for this list, their average ticket prices have remained steady because the team has always had strong backing from local fans. Denver’s another team that doesn’t make this list, and their ticket prices are actually down from last year, but their successes place them firmly in the top ten.
How do we know this? Thanks to the fine folks over at TiqIQ, who keep tabs on all sorts of ticket-related things to any event that requires proof of admission. Using their data, we’ve been able to compile this list of the seven most expensive NFL teams, according to the average of their initial ticket prices, for the upcoming 2014 season.
7. Dallas Cowboys — Average ticket price: $322
Texas, as you may have heard, is very into football, and the Cowboys reign atop the hierarchy of Lone Star State ticket prices, beating out Houston by $68 and compiling over $300 a head, on average, for fans to come and experience the Tony Romo emotional roller coaster in person. Jerry Jones may have been “this close” to drafting Johnny Football last year — and we’re fairly safe in saying that these ticket prices would’ve been even higher if he had — but, alas, that dream was not to be.
The Cowboys, it must be said, have finished dead even for the last three years, compiling 24 wins and 24 losses. Despite their knack for mediocrity, their average ticket prices have increased from $274 in 2013 to the $322 figure they sit at today. Curious, but the league as a whole is on the up-and-up, with the cheapest and the most expensive tickets seeing a boost in pricing.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers — Average ticket price: $328
No word on whether the tickets come with a complementary Terrible Towel, but Pittsburgh is still wheeling out Big Ben Roethlisberger and the rest of the familiar faces as they attempt to avoid becoming the easterly version of Dallas. They’ve only got two consecutive .500 seasons under their belts so far, but with largely the same players and the same coaching staff, they definitely have the potential to be average for a third straight season.
5. Chicago Bears — Average ticket price: $349
The Chicago Bears are one of the NFL’s most important teams, historically speaking. That’s not an exaggeration, since the franchise that George Halas used to create the modern day NFL as we know it is one of just two original teams remaining from the league’s inaugural season in 1920. The other antediluvian squad? If you guessed the Arizona Cardinals, who were originally based in Chicago before moving to St. Louis in 1960 and then Arizona in 1988, you probably already knew the answer and that wasn’t a guess at all. Bears tickets are actually significantly cheaper than they were last year, when they nabbed the number one spot in average ticket prices, with 2014 seats almost $100 less expensive than the 2013 counterparts.
4. New York Giants — Average ticket price: $366
Proving that you can, actually, put a price on watching Eli Manning do Eli Manning-y things (ranging from completely eviscerating an opposing team’s defense to looking like he woke up forgetting how to play), the Giants pull in over $120 more per game than their co-inhabitants at the MetLife Stadium. So, you know, at least they’re not the Jets.
3. San Francisco 49ers — Average ticket price: $388
Among the more cynically minded, one of the major factors behind the 49ers’ move across the Bay, from San Francisco to Santa Clara, was the significant increase in pricing that the team would be able to take advantage of. So far, that’s proving far from incorrect, as the 49ers’ average ticket price has increased nearly $100 since moving out of Candlestick Park at the end of last season (initial listings for Niners tickets averaged out at $299 in 2013). The fact that the team continues to be competitive can’t hurt.
2. New England Patriots — Average ticket price: $414
New England takes the house that Belichick built takes very seriously — and has since the team stopped being a competitive nonentity at the turn of the century. At the outset of last season, Pats tickets were the second most expensive in the league, on average. And this season is no different — despite the fact that the team still doesn’t have any wide receivers, it seems like it will only be a matter of time before Rob Gronkowski is partying on the IR again, and Tom Brady is one season closer to his eventual retirement.
None of that matters very much to the people making the pilgrimage to Foxborough, or anywhere else in the country, to see New England win (or be beaten). If you can’t stay neutral on a moving train, it’s just as hard to be neutral about the New England Patriots. You either think they’re cheaters who haven’t won since Spygate, or you think they’re the greatest thing since clam chowder. Which is delicious.
1. Seattle Seahawks — Average ticket price: $452
Proving that an NFL Championship will bring the people out in droves, Seattle leaps up nine spots (and nearly $200 a head) to become the most expensive team, on average, to go see in the NFL. This isn’t a one to one correlation, of course, as the Chicago Bears were the head of the league last year in average prices, and they didn’t even make the playoffs. The Seahawks, like the Patriots, seem to be a galvanizing entity in the National Football League, and whether you’re rooting for them to win or to lose, they bring a level of enthusiasm to fans and detractors that isn’t replicated by, say, the St. Louis Rams.
With the Seahawks poised to evolve into a dynasty, the odds of ticket prices decreasing in the near future seems slim. Not impossible, but slim — since even with the league’s commitment to parity, it appears that the ‘Hawks won’t be leaving the national stage anytime soon.