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NFL bars teams from charging for playoff tickets before playoffs are clinched

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The NFL is telling teams they can no longer charge fans for playoff tickets until they have actually clinched a home playoff game.

Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal reports that owners voted today to prohibit teams from charging in advance for playoff tickets. Fans now cannot be billed for playoff tickets until a team is sure that it will play a playoff game at home. In the past, some teams had charged fans for tickets to playoff games that they ended up not actually hosting, and then either refunded the money or credited the money to the next year’s season tickets.

The NFL has become increasingly concerned about selling playoff tickets after last year’s wild card weekend, when three of the four teams hosting playoff games struggled to sell out their stadiums. This move would seem, however, to make it a little more difficult for teams to sell playoff tickets, as they’ll have less time to do so.

Still, this feels like a more fan-friendly policy, as it’s not exactly a great deal for fans to be forced to pay for playoff tickets to a game that never ends up taking place.

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72 Responses to “NFL bars teams from charging for playoff tickets before playoffs are clinched”
  1. calhounlambeau says: Mar 24, 2014 12:25 PM

    This created a stir in Green Bay and put people strapped for cash after Christmas in a bad position. Glad it’s over with.

  2. Rick Spielman is a Magician says: Mar 24, 2014 12:26 PM

    Shouldn’t the picture be someone holding Packer tickets? Oh wait, they couldn’t find anyone who had tickets to last year’s Packer playoff game.

  3. citizenstrange says: Mar 24, 2014 12:27 PM

    The Steelers haven’t had a home playoff game in three years. And there appear to be none in the foreseeable future.

  4. realskipbayless says: Mar 24, 2014 12:27 PM

    Makes sense.

  5. Punk says: Mar 24, 2014 12:29 PM

    Of course the teams can still make you pay for ALL possible playoff games.

    So for some (most? all?) teams you have to buy 2 playoff tickets.

    And if they don’t get it, you don’t get your money back, a portion of the money (minus a small processing fee) goes off next years season ticket price.

    Worse than an airline.

  6. trumb1mj says: Mar 24, 2014 12:29 PM

    Ahh yes, the move made famous by the “best owners in football” up in Green Bay.

  7. thepftpoet says: Mar 24, 2014 12:29 PM

    The Minnesota Vikings should be the one exception.

    We are guaranteed a playoff spot this year with our rebuilt soon to be top 5 defense with guru Mike Zimmer.

    We also have the top offense in the NFL with the best RB in the game and a new franchise QB.

  8. elliottcovert says: Mar 24, 2014 12:29 PM

    Makes sense. You shouldn’t count your chickens before they hatch.

  9. pourman says: Mar 24, 2014 12:31 PM

    Must have been facing a lawsuit.

  10. cakesw says: Mar 24, 2014 12:31 PM

    Thank you for this !

    I’m going to print it out and save it to read again on nights I have difficulty sleeping.

  11. patriottony says: Mar 24, 2014 12:31 PM

    ANYBODY and I do mean ANYBODY who has gone to a NFL game in the last year,,knows why they don’t sell. YOU JACKWAGONS in the NFL, have turned this upside down for the fans. Who wants to pay HUNDREDS of dollars, to stand in line to be wanded, searched and humiliated in a crowd of 60-70 thousand? I attended my last one for sure. Sir step forward,,,empty your pockets,,,raise your arms..take off your hat..do you have a prescription for these pills? I’m sorry you can’t take your camera in,,,I’m sorry,,seat cushions are not allowed…you will have to throw away that bottle of water and buy another for 5 dollars. REALLY? REALLY? AND YOU MORONS ASK Y?

  12. thefootballgodssay says: Mar 24, 2014 12:31 PM

    i call this the JERRY JONES RULE

  13. pubpower95 says: Mar 24, 2014 12:33 PM

    How else could the Cowboys gonna sell playoff tickets?

  14. xli2006 says: Mar 24, 2014 12:33 PM

    As a Season Ticket Holder, I didn’t mind the policy of charging for tickets a few weeks before the playoffs actually started or even before a playoff spot was even clinched.

    Luckily, my team has been a regular playoff participant over the last 15 years though and I’ve never had to pay for tickets where they ended up missing the playoffs.

    What you will have is almost every team only has a few days to sell 60-70,000 tickets. What could possibly go wrong there? Most teams don’t clinch until later in the year, even if they are in a very “comfortable” spot to be able to forecast playoffs.

    There has to be a middle ground. The policy could be amended to allow for a team in a “Reasonable Playoff Position” to be able to open up Playoff Tickets. Teams who would be “in” by Dec 1st or Week 14 or so should be able to consider opening up Playoff Tickets. You don’t HAVE to buy them and in many cases have weeks to decide. The alternative would be getting a nice fat playoff bill right around Christmas… not ideal.

    This policy may appear to be “fan-friendly” but can put quite a few fans in a bind.

  15. Go-Hawks! says: Mar 24, 2014 12:35 PM

    Oh. I’m sorry. You’re concerned about selling out for playoff games? Here’s a novel idea… Reduce the price per ticket!

  16. ravioles says: Mar 24, 2014 12:35 PM

    Good. Unless the teams were going to return the money with interest this had to happen.

  17. chut26 says: Mar 24, 2014 12:36 PM

    Good now the teams won’t be able to collect free interest off the fans they already squeeze every dime they can out of.

  18. madpunter88 says: Mar 24, 2014 12:37 PM

    The teams can sell the tickets, they just can’t charge the credit card until the game is confirmed. I am a Seahawks season ticket holder and they did this last year and it worked very well. They asked for a commitment to buy by a certain date, those who did not commit lost priority on purchasing, it was then opened to the general public to put down a card to purchase — all in advance of the game being determined.

    Only once the games were confirmed were we charged. The tickets were all electronic. There is no reason for teams to need to charge in advance anymore since they do not have to print and mail tickets.

  19. judsonjr says: Mar 24, 2014 12:37 PM

    The issue last year is that some teams wanted season ticket holders to pay for ALL playoff games before a team clinched a playoff spot.

    Example, the Green Bay Packers were 5-8 on Thanksgiving and fans were being asked to drop money for all playoff games immediately. I believe if they did not make the playoffs, that money would roll toward next year’s season tickets (not be refunded).

    As a fan in this situation, it’s not great to tie up a bunch of money right around the holiday season.

    Really, teams should be able to sell tickets ahead of time, but not charge the fan’s credit card until the game is sure to happen.

  20. raiders4lyfe17 says: Mar 24, 2014 12:38 PM

    That’s how the jags make their money hmmm

  21. joetoronto says: Mar 24, 2014 12:39 PM

    Never mind the NFL, this should be illegal.

  22. heartofsteel36 says: Mar 24, 2014 12:39 PM

    So basically, Browns Fans won’t have to fork out any money in advance for the next 20+ years…

  23. pack88 says: Mar 24, 2014 12:39 PM

    This is a very good policy. It permits fans of teams who are on the cusp of a playoff berth (or unlikely playoff berth) to agree without financial commitment until the team actually clinches. I am a Packer fan and many of my season ticket holder friends didn’t commit when the team sent out playoff notices because they didn’t think they would get in and then they struggled to get their normal seats as those were for seats that sold 1st and less popular areas of the stadium were the unsolds that they had to accept.

  24. jdfrox says: Mar 24, 2014 12:40 PM

    Wow! The NFL did something nice for the fans. The Ravens required you to pay for tickets this year prior to clinching a playoff spot. Luckily for the fans, and this was conincidental, the deadline to pay for the tickets was the day after the Bengals clinched the division. So there was no need to pay for the tickets if you waited. Still, this is a good policy for the fans!

  25. gtodriver says: Mar 24, 2014 12:41 PM

    Call this the Green Bay Packer rule. The waiting list for season tickets was exposed as fraudulent when the Packers needed a corporate bailout to “sell out” a home playoff game.

    After years of listening to these frauds claiming to be the best fans in the NFL, we now know the truth.

  26. mburkett1980 says: Mar 24, 2014 12:41 PM

    What happens if a team doesn’t clinch a round 1 home game until week 17? The policy won’t seem so “fan friendly” then.

    How on earth would they handle that? How is a football team supposed to invoice and collect money in just 2 or 3 days?

    Seems counter-productive to the goal, which is to sell out the game.

  27. paulnoga says: Mar 24, 2014 12:42 PM

    Last year there were many teams in the playoff hunt during the last week, especially in the AFC.
    The NFL office opens on Monday morning. Even if season ticket holders pay on line Mon or Tue, how long will it take to mail the tickets?

  28. somethingsmellsrotten says: Mar 24, 2014 12:43 PM

    Look at that photo pftpoet…Vikings playoff tickets, something you will never see again.

  29. ratsfoiledagain says: Mar 24, 2014 12:43 PM

    This was a stupid business practice by the owners.

    This is akin to me having a pending lawsuit against an owner in case I break my leg at their stadium due to faulty concrete. At some point the concrete ‘may’ be cracked, chipped, loose, etc.

  30. aceakking says: Mar 24, 2014 12:43 PM

    NFL should bar the SB40-cheating Stealers.

  31. ✦ Pittsburgh is the City of Champions ✦ says: Mar 24, 2014 12:43 PM

    The Steelers have already clinched. Book it.

  32. shatho1 says: Mar 24, 2014 12:43 PM

    I’m all for that except I don’t think its right that it has to be a home game in order to sell tickets for a playoff game. regardless if u play ay home or not if u make it to the playoffs that team whoever it might be should be able to sell playoff tickets to their fans

  33. imbetteratlifethanyou says: Mar 24, 2014 12:43 PM

    You mean viking fans can’t buy an imaginary ticket when they’re 6 games out of the playoffs in November? hmmmmm

  34. ninetysixer says: Mar 24, 2014 12:44 PM

    stupid move, I always paid and if thereare no home games the money gets applied to the following year, takes some of the sting out of that renewal bill

  35. russellwilsonismymvp says: Mar 24, 2014 12:45 PM

    Lmao at the picture! The elusive Vikings playoff tickets! Much akin to the 17 year locust…lol!

  36. mediasloppy says: Mar 24, 2014 12:47 PM

    I like this new policy. I think the anticipation and knowing you’re 100% in the playoffs will sell tickets faster than a calculated risk.

  37. flexx91 says: Mar 24, 2014 1:03 PM

    Not so sure it’s a good idea because it may further drive up the cost of season ticket package prices. These tickets have to printed well in advance to assure they will be received in time. The up-front cost to print will be passed onto the season ticket holders as sometimes wild-card round teams hosting the home game aren’t assured until the final game of the regular season (like the Eagles and Cowboys last season) and two of these games are played only six days after that last regular season game (on the following Saturday). Will also an issue for ticket resellers from a timing perspective if the actual hard tickets are desired.

  38. jgedgar70 says: Mar 24, 2014 1:04 PM

    With no advance-purchase playoff tickets to peddle, the Cowboys will have to furlough their entire PR department from Thanksgiving to the day they are officially eliminated.

  39. slugbaitspace says: Mar 24, 2014 1:07 PM

    Let me guess: three of the four teams hosting playoff games that struggled to sell out their stadiums were located in Green Bay, Philadelphia and Cincinnati.

    Gosh, just a few days to decide whether or not to go freeze my butt off, not being allowed to take my stuff into the stadium after a long walk from the $40 parking lot, and eat a $7 hotdog to go along with my $10 beer. Or I sit by the fireplace with my 54″ plasma, no line for the bathroom, and a small fridge next to the couch that’s filled with IPA. Decisions, decisions…

  40. flexx91 says: Mar 24, 2014 1:08 PM

    Besides, you are not forced to pay for playoff tickets as it will not jeopardize your account standing for the following season. The amount is simply credited towards next season should you team fail to host a playoff game(s) If you don’t renew you season ticket package for the following season, they will simply issue a refund.

  41. dtownsportslions says: Mar 24, 2014 1:13 PM

    Thank You! I’m out $1200 that’s going to next years seasons tickets and the Lions didn’t even make the playoffs. They make you go through all these obstacles to get a refund.

  42. leroysbutler says: Mar 24, 2014 1:17 PM

    I’m surprised they used counterfeit tickets in the picture.

  43. dchetz says: Mar 24, 2014 1:19 PM

    Wait….. this is actually a move that BENEFITS season ticket holders? That can’t be right.

  44. PackersHome.com says: Mar 24, 2014 1:20 PM

    Only issue I have is the concession prices. Bought four playoff tickets last season with no issue. The concessions, dang, I thought I was gonna have to get a loan. Thankfully the Packers were giving the hot chocolate away at no cost.

  45. ronarch13 says: Mar 24, 2014 1:21 PM

    I’ll pay now for my 2024 home playoff game
    – signed Cleveland (yeah, I am a Browns fan)

  46. tomtravis76 says: Mar 24, 2014 1:24 PM

    There is nothing there that says the team’s can’t require fans to place a deposit on playoff tickets. It only says they can’t be charged for the tickets. The league will still get its money.

  47. swagger52 says: Mar 24, 2014 1:24 PM

    This poses a problem for the Browns and the Steelers.

    The Browns would never be tricked into buying playoff tickets in advance, even if it is 5 minutes before kickoff.

    The Steelers are the opposite. They start every year thinking being arrogant. They have fallen for the old…it is our year, so refinance your trailer!

  48. ras1tafari says: Mar 24, 2014 1:25 PM

    I am amazed at this. I thought the NFL was only interested in making their franchise owners richer. This seems to make things easier on their fans, which makes no sense at all.

  49. noringsforvikings says: Mar 24, 2014 1:26 PM

    This won’t affect the Vikings at all.

  50. possumsauce says: Mar 24, 2014 1:26 PM

    Is there a bigger inferiority complex in all of sports fandom worldwide than that of Vikings fans vis-a-vis Green Bay? Why don’t you guys take a collective pill, it’s not like your owner dealt the Packers Babe Ruth for money to finance a Broadway play.

  51. renbutler says: Mar 24, 2014 1:37 PM

    The NFL saw the problem, and then fixed it. Good for them.

    They don’t always do that, unfortunately (see: officiating).

  52. nfl fan says: Mar 24, 2014 1:39 PM

    Next item on the agenda: Don’t charge FULL PRICE for pre-season tickets!

  53. thefiesty1 says: Mar 24, 2014 1:40 PM

    They’ll just figure out another way to screw the fans. It’s all about the money and the teams are NOT going to make less $$$$.

  54. justintuckrule says: Mar 24, 2014 1:44 PM

    Does this take care of the din bag teams who charged even though their teams were only guaranteed a 6th seed?

  55. weepingjebus says: Mar 24, 2014 1:48 PM

    How about timeshare tickets where you and 3 other people each pay to attend 1 quarter of a playoff game in the same numbered seat? I think this would be hilarious, and also cause the 3 not in the seat at any given time to just be roaming the stadium buying overpriced food. In other words, genius.

  56. kcw0lf says: Mar 24, 2014 2:03 PM

    That’s a good policy. In this day and age teams should have people renew online anyway. That takes a lot less time then mailing out a form and waiting to have it mailed back. It’s the 2000s!

  57. thetruthcampaign says: Mar 24, 2014 2:09 PM

    Then, when will us Lion’s fans ever get playoff tickets??

  58. topcide says: Mar 24, 2014 2:10 PM

    I haven’t been to an NFL game in over 6 years, and it has nothing to do with then the tickets are available, it’s all about cost benefit analysis. Granted I follow the Lions who haven’t hosted playoff game in forver, but the following rings true for any team, and for the regular season as well.

    So If I wanted to go to a game lets break it down–

    2 tickets for you and wife / son / ETC let’s assume you are taking one kid with you.

    the packers wild card game ticket prices last year ranged from $156 – $349 per seat. So assume you want halfways decent seats where you can actually see the field and not have to watch the jumbotron, and you are prob looking at $200 each at a minimum. so $400 right of the bat. If you had to go to the secondary market, add to that price.

    Parking – your looking at a minimum of prob $10 if you don’t mind walking 20 minutes to the game, and prob $30-$50 if you park close. so lets say $25 to park.

    you snag a hotdog or nachos for you and your kid prob $5 bucks each, you have 2 crappy watery light beers in a plastic cup at $8 a pop, and he gets 2 cokes for $4 each. so theres another $34

    You prob want the kid to have a good time, so you get him a gameday magazine for prob $10, and a T- shirt for $30 so there is another $40 bucks.

    so we are at $499.00 for one afternoon not factoring in that you prob live in burbs and have a 45 mile commute to and from the stadium, so throw some gas costs on there.

    Not to mention that you are literally gone all day, you stood in huge lines to take a leak, had to deal with some drunken idiot who spilled his beer all over you and proceeded to spew forth language around your kid that would make a marine in afghanistan blush, and got yelled at for standing up and cheering by the guy sitting behind you who doesn’t even care about the game and is only there to drink himself into a frothing stupor because the company trying to get his buisness has season tickets.

    And god forbid you wanna catch a little buzz, better have DD to take you home.

    ORRRRRRR

    I could have a few of my close friends over in my man cave basement and watch the game in surround sound on my high def TV from my leather sectional sofa, drink a few craft beers out of frosted pint glasses poured from the kegerator inegrated in the bar that I built, order some pizza’s delivery, and be able to pause the game when one of us needs to take use the bathroom.

    tough choice

  59. lionhunter909 says: Mar 24, 2014 2:13 PM

    Common sense move. Seriously, why should anyone be billed in advance for a possible non-event?

    Now the NFL should take it a step further and get rid of the blackout rule for playoff games as well. To think that fans of a home playoff team would possibly miss their team’s game because of a non-sellout is ridiculous. There are millions of NFL fans who cannot afford NFL tickets and/or have no interest in attending a game in person, and for numerous reasons.

  60. shaggytoodle says: Mar 24, 2014 2:26 PM

    Teams collect interest on the money sitting in the bank. If they miss the post-season they put it towards the next regular season.

    Just another way for the rich to get richer.

  61. coachglove says: Mar 24, 2014 2:57 PM

    I can’t believe there are people on here suggesting you need time to “mail” the tickets. Huh? Um – you can do “print at home” or “will call” tickets. You don’t ever need to mail a ticket in the NFL. If they do like some baseball teams are doing (the Padres) you never see a paper ticket all season. They send their season ticket holders (who opt-in) a card the size of a credit card that acts as your entry to the park, cash to use for in-stadium purchases, and a discount card to local businesses all in one. In that case the team would simply load the tix onto the card of season ticket holders. Hell, the Padres also allow you to have your cell phone scanned as entry to the park. This is 2014. Why on earth to paper tickets even exist anymore? Anyone commenting on here clearly has an email account…why would you not realize the team can email you tix you can print at home/work/wherever?

    Its ridiculous to charge someone before the product is assured of being produced. I’ve never been a fan of this policy. I’m glad the NFL is changing it. I don’t want a team telling me what has to happen to my money if the playoff game doesn’t materialize. That was a criminal practice. Time Value of Money and all…

  62. gbmickey says: Mar 24, 2014 3:09 PM

    Are you kidding with that picture? I think you have it confused with counterfeit playoff tickets. Even though the Vikings haven’t had a home playoff game in ages I heard the guys that were busted made a pretty good living off of desperate Viking fans.

  63. thegreatsantini56 says: Mar 24, 2014 3:18 PM

    After years of extorting money from local taxpayers with the implied threat of moving to LA, they have finally made a fan-friendly move. I guess London will be the next threat when the Raiders move to LA.

  64. barometerrrrising says: Mar 24, 2014 3:24 PM

    So glad they barred this policy. Patriots have been doing this for 10+ years. In November, you have to pay for tickets to BOTH home playoff games. If there is no game (or games), your money is applied to the next season’s tickets. So Robert Kraft was pocketing your money in November for games that didn’t occur (and players didn’t get paid) until the next September. I could never see the justification for this.

  65. whatjusthapped says: Mar 24, 2014 3:29 PM

    Well the Viking fans had nothing to worry about and by the looks of this year’s time, should worry about it for a long time.

  66. jagsfan2012 says: Mar 24, 2014 3:38 PM

    The Jags haven’t had a home playoff game since 2000. Don’t think I have to worry about my credit card getting charged anytime soon.

  67. rcali says: Mar 24, 2014 3:47 PM

    I’m still shocked so many people buy tickets to games in the first place, especially if you don’t have money seats. Although as my season ticket holder friend has told me, “it’s the one day I can get away from my wife and kids.”

  68. bpearse230 says: Mar 24, 2014 3:50 PM

    In 2010 the Jets sent a bill to us for 3 rounds of playoff game in early December. I had to explain to them that 3 home playoff games is impossible in the NFL (not to mention the fact that the Jets have played 2 home playoff games in 20 years). It took about 4 rounds of emails to get the situation resolved. I wish I saved them all.

  69. wnstonchill says: Mar 24, 2014 4:03 PM

    This will certainly help Cowboys fans who seem to get their hopes up annually, much to no avail………

  70. puntonfirstdown says: Mar 24, 2014 4:17 PM

    Wait a minute… is today April 1st?

  71. FoozieGrooler says: Mar 24, 2014 4:34 PM

    ..but it’s still perfectly OK to sell seats that don’t even exist…
    /eyeroll

  72. granadafan says: Mar 24, 2014 5:05 PM

    If your team didn’t make the playoffs, the owners greedily pocketed the interest from the tickets until next year. If you didn’t want season tickets the teams made it harder than quitting a gym membership to get a refund (12 months later).

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