For a sports fan, one of the most exiting experiences can be going to see your favourite team play up close and in person. The barrier that is normally separating you when watching the games on TV is no longer present and you can get completely sucked in with the cheering (or booing) of thousands of other fans. However nice this may all sound, there’s one drawback - it can get expensive.
On average, the lowest price for a ticket in the NFL is roughly $79. Add $28 for parking and $15 for a drink and some food, and you’re up to $122. Although that might not seem like a big number the first time around, these costs can add up for those fans who regularly attend football games. The average American makes around $51,000 a year. If say a family of four would want to go see an NFL game, they’d have to dish out about $468 on the whole outing. Just going to see one game can burn a huge hole in their pockets, seeing them spend close to $500 in one day.
However, ticket prices do vary from team to team. The Cleveland Browns have been the cheapest team in the NFL ticket-wise since 2010, averaging $112 a ticket (with their least expensive tickets falling in the $50 range). Since 2010 they’ve put up a 14-34 record, failing to qualify for the playoffs even once. On the other hand, a slightly more successful franchise like the Miami Dolphins who have gone 20-28 over the last three years (but still no playoffs) average $146 a ticket.
No matter how many big name players on a roster, few people want to go see a team that hasn’t had any playoff success in recent memory. On the other hand, the most successful teams in the league are able to draw fans to their stadiums even with considerably higher ticket prices. Here are the top 10 NFL teams with the highest average ticket prices for the 2013-14 season according to the Wall Street Journal.
10 Dallas Cowboys - $209 Per Ticket
The Cowboys aren’t one of the most successful teams in the NFL, but they do have an extremely loyal fan base. In 2012 the Cowboys had the highest average home attendance record in the league with 88,531 per game, and their stadium is the most hi-tech and luxurious in the NFL. Despite their lack of playoff success, the Cowboys have one of the most talented rosters in the league. They keep themselves in the playoff race for most of the season but poor performances in the month of December are what hurt their chances year in and year out. Despite this, Cowboys fans are still optimistic and continue to cheer their team on from the stands.
9 Baltimore Ravens - $220 Per Ticket
The Ravens are benefiting from their recent Super Bowl success, raising ticket prices by 24.3% since 2011. Despite being without icons Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, the Ravens franchise has a new face in QB Joe Flacco and his golden arm. Since being hired as the Ravens' head coach in 2008 John Harbaugh has gone 61-32 in the regular season and 9-4 in the playoffs including one Super Bowl win. Under Harbaugh’s regime the team hasn’t fallen bellow .500 in four years and has managed to make it to two Divisional playoff games and two Championship games.
8 Seattle Seahawks - $220 Per Ticket
Head coach Pete Carroll said that his decision to start QB Russell Wilson last year was “the best decision” he made in his career. Last year under Wilson, the Hawks went 11-5 and made it to the Divisional round, losing to the Atlanta Falcons. Boasting one of the most explosive offenses and the most dominant defense in the league, there’s a lot of hype and expectation surrounding Seattle. With such a promising team and a load of big name players, Seahawks fans can expect to see ticket prices rise over the next couple of years.
7 Pittsburgh Steelers - $221 Per Ticket
Despite missing the playoffs last year, the Steelers have been one of the most successful teams over the past ten years, making three Super Bowl appearances and winning two of them. However, they had an average home attendance of only 61, 141 people last season, ranking them 25th in the NFL. Their ticket prices have only risen 7.8% since 2011 while the league average has been 16%. As long as they’ve got a franchise QB like Big Ben, the Steelers still have a good shot at a playoff run every year. Their record over the last three seasons has been a great 32-16 with the team making the playoffs in two of those three years. That’s more than enough to keep the fans coming.
6 New Orleans Saints - $225 Per Ticket
The Saints ranked in the top ten for average home attendance last year, finishing seventh with 72,888 people per game. That was the same year that head coach Sean Peyton was suspended for his connection to the infamous bounty scandal. Even though the team was without their head coach, they were still one of the most popular teams in the NFL. The Saints have an elite QB in Drew Brees and a city that loves their football team. When New Orleans was recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Saints were one of the city's bright lights. Now, after a recent Super Bowl victory only a few years ago, the Saints are more popular than ever.
5 Denver Broncos - $237 Per Ticket
Having one of the greatest QB’s of all time on your team is not only a boost for players, but also for the fans. With the addition of Peyton Manning, not only have the Broncos faired better as a team, they’ve also been able to increase ticket prices by over 50% since 2011. After “Tebowmania” came and went, the Broncos' popularity shot up with the signing of Manning in 2012. That along with the team’s stellar performance under head coach John Fox has given Broncos fans hope and confidence in what looks to be a very talented, and perhaps Super Bowl-bound team.
4 Green Bay Packers - $245 Per Ticket
Packers fans have been lucky to have two great QB’s start for them over the last 10 years. With their team boasting some of the most talented offenses of the last decade, the Green Bay faithful are among the most loyal, hardcore fans in the NFL. With young stars on both offense and defense, the Packers have enjoyed some success over the last few years, winning a Super Bowl just a short while ago in 2010. The team's average ticket price has only increased about 10% since 2011, but four straight years with 10 or more wins in a season are what keep fans coming in Green Bay.
3 New England Patriots - $277 Per Game
The Patriots' dynasty started in 2001 when an unknown QB named Tom Brady took the team on an improbable run. Fast forward over a decade later and the Patriots are one of the most successful franchises in the league, lead by one of the greatest QB’s in NFL history. Although they’ve lost the last two Super Bowls they’ve played in, New England’s still one of the scariest and most exiting teams out there. They finished 15th highest in average home attendance last year with 68,755, almost maxing out Gillette Stadium's 70,000 person capacity.
2 Chicago Bears - $282 Per Ticket
The Bears’ Soldier Field which seats more than 60,000 people regularly sells out for home games. The Bears have played in two of the ten most expensive games this season, one against the Giants, the other against the Cowboys, both with average ticket prices over $300. The last time the team played in a Super Bowl was in 2007 when Rex Grossman was starting QB. Despite having limited success in the playoffs, the Bears have a talented roster on both sides of the ball, and under former CFL coach Mark Trestman they look like they will once again turn into contenders in time.
1 New York Giants - $292 Per Ticket
The Giants are one of the streakiest teams in football. Every year can either be a hit or a miss for Tom Coughlin’s team, but he’s kept the faith by bringing the team two Super Bowl trophies along with the help of QB Eli Manning & co. Belonging to one of the largest markets in the world, it’s no surprise that the Giants are number one on this list. Ironically, the New York Jets who play at the same MetLife Stadium as the G-Men, have some of the least expensive tickets in the NFL. That’s not too much of a surprise since the Jets haven’t won a Super Bowl since the 60’s; success speaks volumes in the NFL.