For many teams, having a partial home crowd isn’t worth it

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The NFL has decide to not to use a one-size-fits-all approach to 2020 attendance, allowing any teams that may host fans consistent with state and local regulations to do so. From a business perspective, is it worth it to have a limited collection of fans?

PFT has spoken to a league source with extensive knowledge of NFL game-day stadium finances, and the answer is that, for many teams, the extra money earned doesn’t justify the trouble.

Assuming a crowd of 15,000 fans and an average ticket price of $70, that becomes gross game-day ticket revenue of $1.05 million. A third of that goes to the league, to be distributed to all franchises as the visiting teams’ share. So that leaves $700,000 in gross ticket revenue for the home team. The net revenue from parking, food, beverages, and merchandise is, in a normal year, roughly $13 per person. That’s another $195,000, if 15,000 fans are present.

The cost of operating the stadium, and given social-distancing requirements the full stadium (upper and lower levels) must be opened, is roughly $300,000. That puts the per-game net revenue at roughly $600,000 per game.

So that’s $4.8 million in total net revenues for a full slate of eight home games. After taxes, that’s roughly $2.4 million in extra money for ownership. For the entire year.

Again, is it worth it? Per the source, some teams don’t think it is. But some teams are still doing it because: (1) the state and local government allows them to do it; and (2) a segment of their fan base badly wants to attend the games. Basically, it becomes a customer-relations device, in those places where the government has not prohibited the team from hosting fans. (Some teams, frankly, aren’t lobbying their state and local governments to permit fans to attend games with a high degree of passion and zeal.)

Further complicating matters is the league’s duty to the NFL Players Association to maximize revenues. With the NFLPA now roughly equal partners with the league, missed opportunities to make money in 2020 will drive down the salary cap in 2021. And there’s no reason for the union to agree to let the owners consciously pass on what amounts to, from the players’ perspective, money for nothing.

So even though the league has created a potential competitive imbalance as part of the broader business objectives, it’s more about placating fans and the union than it is about stuffing more millions into the owner’s bank account. In the grand scheme of things, an extra $2.4 million in after-tax dollars for a full season of football with 15,000 fans present simply isn’t worth the trouble. The relationship with fans and the union is, for the teams that are trudging ahead with plans for limited capacity, the primary driving force for most if not all of the teams that will try to proceed with a limited complement of paying customers.

21 responses to “For many teams, having a partial home crowd isn’t worth it

  1. Average ticket price of $70? The Chiefs minimum price is $200 and the average would be closer to $400 to $500 per ticket.

  2. Imagine if they were doing it for fans to have something fun to do.

    Great calculations though, I’m sure no teams did the math…

  3. It’s probably worth it to the people who will have jobs working at the game, who wouldn’t if there are no fans.

  4. Teams like Miami so greedy in the middle of a rampant pandemic are pathetic.

    So insecure.

  5. Nice to see that a league that your average joe has been priced out of, couldn’t be bothered with 2.5 mil

  6. Seems like the stadium workers and local vendors are not high on some teams priority list. Those small businesses and workers need to remember how their respective teams dealt with them.

  7. With the NFL being a big money making machine I don’t get it why they are going ahead anyway where they will lose more than taking in.
    Perhaps if they did it like the basketball bubble and just used a few stadiums across the country with all the teams staying in hotels/apts nearby this could prevent the spread of Covid even more and it could help find a way to not lose as much money.
    Or they could play on HS/college football fields and rent them cheap. Those are the same sizes anyway as the big stadium ones.
    Somehow I can’t help but think there is a better solution than what they are doing.

  8. I disagree. $2.5M net is better than nothing. Im sure most owners would agree. And, if you shut the whole attendance thing down, you may lose valuable employees to other active opportunities.

  9. Glad my team is “trudging ahead“ and actually cares about our fan base. If your team is not “trudging ahead” then that means your team dislikes its fan base. Don’t hold a grudge, it’s all about the trudge.

  10. So teams won’t jack up the prices because of limited supply making tickets scarce?

  11. the only games worth going to are preseason anyway, at least the product matches the ticket value. I’m not going to waste $100 on tickets and everything else and they don’t show up cause it’s the Bills. At least in preseason the tickets are only $10.

  12. Miami is opening their full stadium. they’ll have trouble getting all their 15k fans in the hardrock.

  13. So, the same teams that are furloughing/laying off employees to save payroll dollars are going to pass up a few million in ticket sales? That doesn’t sound very likely. Also, where did the $70 average price come from because absolutely nobody has tickets that cheap.

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