As many of you know, the National Football League, is holding its annual advertising conference — colloquially known as the “Superbowl” — next month in the New York area. But because conference space is at such a premium in Manhattan, event planners placed the conference in New Jersey. Outdoors. On February 2nd. NFL planners surmise that conference attendees are so drunk and stupid that they’ll happily pay thousands of dollars to sit outside in the cold for multiple hours.
And they’re not wrong. Right now, the secondary market has the average price for Super Bowl tickets set at $3,332. If you really want to see the game that badly, I’ll set you up in my backyard with JoePa’s giant HD projector television and you can experience the delirious glory of hypothermia for only $1,000. It’s a steal! Please take me up on this offer. Otherwise, JoePa will keep his projector, and I’ll end up having to go to his place again in Kathmandu, Brooklyn.
Anyway, one fan has decided to sue the NFL over the price of tickets. He claims that the NFL is withholding seats for corporate sponsors in violation of New Jersey’s consumer fraud law…
New Jersey man Josh Finkelman eventually secured two tickets to the Jersey Bowl for $2,000 a piece. I have not ruled out the possibility that Finkelman is made out of ice and must watch football outside to keep himself from melting. Failing that, it occurs to me that he might have CTE, like so many of his beloved football players. After all, the 28-year-old lives in New Jersey and claims to be a Houston Texans fan — a franchise that’s only existed for 11 years. David Carr isn’t walking through that door, Josh.
Finkelman does have an interesting point when you actually look at the laws of New Jersey. I know the NFL keeps saying that this is the “New York” Super Bowl, and I know that New Yorkers like to act like we have two football teams (Giants, Jets) instead of one (Buffalo). But as Governor Chris Christie could tell you, the game is actually being played in New Jersey, which is an entirely different political and legal entity than New York. From the Daily News:
According to the suit, 25% of the tickets are kept by the NFL “for distribution to companies, broadcast networks, media sponsors, the host committee and other league insiders.”
The lawsuit further charges the NFL violates the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, which prohibits the withholding of more than 5% of the available tickets for any event.
“Our lawyers will review the complaint and respond accordingly,” the NFL said in a statement.
The league also noted that nearly 75% of the tickets are distributed to the NFL’s teams, which sell the seats at face value to their fans.
Now, what constitutes “withholding” under the NJ Consumer Fraud Act is quite complicated, and remember New Jersey has every interest in applying its laws most favorably to the NFL. There’s a lot of money to be made from this here Super Bowl. And, shockingly, siding with the NFL usually keeps you in good standing with the public. There’s no more popular corporation run by 30 impossibly wealthy white men than the National Football League.
But where Finkelman’s suit really misses the mark is that the high ticket prices really aren’t the “fault” of the NFL’s control over the supply of tickets, it’s the ridiculous demand for tickets to a live event that is actually more fun to watch while sitting in the comfort of your home. The NFL could make all of the tickets free on a first-come, first-served basis, and the things would still cost thousands of dollars, plus there would probably be a few human deaths as people lined up trying to get their tickets.
Remember how the NFL says that 75% of its tickets are sold at “face value” by the teams? I hope you weren’t stupid enough to believe that. Forbes has a great article about what’s actually happening with the team tickets this year:
The market is for face-price reservations. Face-price reservations are similar to options in the financial market and they allow fans or speculators to lock in a face-price ticket for the game, guaranteed. The catch is that each team has a different price for that guarantee. With a range of prices from $130 to $795, the clear favorite with the most expensive price is Seahawks tickets. At an average reservation price of $795, the Seahawks costs $200 more than Denver Broncos tickets, and 80% more than the cheapest option for the Chargers.
I’m not usually a fan of “the market,” but that’s kind of brilliant. You pay more than face-price to secure the right to buy tickets at face-price that you then can and will sell for a significant multiplier of face price. And everybody makes money because somewhere, Josh Finkelman, fan of the worst team in football this year, will pay thousands of dollars for the right to sit outside for four hours in New Jersey in February. Hat tip: Invisible Hand.
OK, one more dumb thing from Finkelman:
Finkelman said he wasn’t expecting any decision before this year’s kickoff — but expressed hope that the league would call a ticketing audible.
“I’m hoping the NFL will change the policy,” he said.
Riiiiight. And since the Super Bowl will probably never be in New Jersey again and thus subject to New Jersey’s consumer fraud act, it’s likely that the remedy will be a moot issue even if an appellate judge ever wanted to take a look at it.
Here’s a little Pro tip for all the fans who feel that NFL ticket prices are unfairly expensive: DON’T GO TO THE GAME. Spend the $3,332 on a nice television and a space heater.