Giants, Jets among teams adjusting ticket plans in lockout

The New York Giants and Jets, Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills made changes to their season-ticket plans this year to account for the lockout, with the Giants taking the biggest step by not requiring renewals until the labor stoppage ends.

According to a survey of all 32 teams by The Associated Press, 17 teams aren't changing ticket prices, nine are raising them, four are decreasing them -- and two are both raising and decreasing, depending on seat location.

May 1 normally is the due date for full payment by Giants season-ticket holders. Not this year, barring a settlement beforehand of the dispute between owners and players.

"We felt comfortable with it, and we shouldn't be singled out," co-owner John Mara said. "Each team has its own cash situation and relationship with their ticket holders.

"I have not heard anything (from other teams). Each team has its own individual circumstances. We've asked an awful lot out of our fans in the last few years over the stadium."

The Giants and Jets shared the $1.6 billion cost for New Meadowlands Stadium, which opened last season. They also required personal seat license fees for most fans.

For 2011, the Giants aren't raising ticket prices, while the Jets are having a 2.3 percent average increase. The Jets added a payment alternative that defers 50 percent of the total amount due until a training-camp date is announced.

The Panthers added a fourth payment option for fans: 10 percent of the renewal price due up front and 90 percent due upon the signing of a new collective bargaining agreement.

The Bills extended their series of payments by one pay period and adjusted payment terms so 50 percent of the account balance isn't due until the league announces games will be played. Fans then have a two-month period to make the remaining payments.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are offering more flexibility in their payments, but a team spokesman said it had nothing to do with the lockout.

The four teams reducing the cost of tickets are the San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs are dropping some prices but raising others.

In Candlestick Park, more than 40,000 seats for 49ers games will decrease or remain unchanged in price, but the average season-ticket price will be approximately $83, up about $6 from last season. At Arrowhead Stadium, two-thirds of the Chiefs' seats will have reduced or flat prices, and some sidelines seats will increase.

"My tickets in the nosebleed section did not go up this year," said Karen Hamlet, a Chiefs season-ticket holder, "but my parking did, from $275 for the season to $320. I've heard it will go up at the gate as well (for non-season-ticket holders)."

The Chargers lowered the cost of approximately 6,500 seats and held the line on all others for the fourth straight year. The Cardinals dropped the price on about 3,700 seats. The Bucs have reductions of up to 20 percent for some seats and a 10 percent discount on stadium food, beverage and merchandise purchases for season-ticket holders.

The Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens are among teams keeping prices constant for at least the third consecutive year.

Aside from the 49ers and Chiefs, nine other teams are raising prices in some locations. One team, the New Orleans Saints, didn't respond to requests from The AP for ticket information. But a Saints season-ticket holder said the price on his seats has gone up to $298 per ticket.

Not that he thought twice about keeping his seats.

"I renewed, like any good sheep would," said Hank Graham, a New Orleans trial attorney, "because there are, supposedly, another 50,000 or so lunatic sheep like me waiting (on a season-ticket list)."

Should games be canceled, all tickets will be refunded in full. The Patriots and Minnesota Vikings are among those who promise they will add 1 percent interest to those reimbursements.

But canceled games don't seem to be a concern for fans.

"The labor strife did nothing to sway our decision one way or the other," said Matt Lechner, whose family has six season tickets to the Vikings. "My family has been season-ticket holders since the Vikings have been in Minnesota, we have worked up to great seats and we're not giving them up. Paying up front is not a problem for me knowing that we will get the money back if games are canceled. The Vikings seem to have a solid plan in place.

"I'm confident there will be NFL football this season, maybe not training camp or OTAs, but games won't be lost. There is too much money at stake for all parties involved."

However, there will be lots of money drawing interest in team bank accounts after the fans have put down their payments. Some teams required payments to begin before the Super Bowl.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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