FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets are making season tickets at the new Meadowlands stadium available to the general public, beginning Nov. 1, and are cutting the prices on some seats by as much as 50 percent.
The team announced Wednesday that it would reduce prices in the four sections of the Mezzanine Club, which makes up approximately 7,000 of the 80,000 seats in the new stadium.
The reductions will include corner-seat tickets, which are being cut from $400 to $195, and sideline seats, which are going from $500 to $295. Goal-line seats are going from $400 to $245, and prime seats -- around the 50-yard line -- are being reduced from $500 to $395.
"The jump from $120 a ticket or $150 a ticket to $400 just put it out of reach for a lot of people who did want to experience the clubs," Matt Higgins, the Jets' executive vice president of business operations, told The Associated Press. "We came to the conclusion that these prices are really 2007 prices in a 2009 world."
Higgins, owner Woody Johnson and Thad Sheely, the team's executive vice president of finance and stadium development, conducted research through focus groups and devised a plan they believed would make purchasing Mezzanine Club tickets more affordable for fans.
"We looked at the possible pricing options we had, and we took the most aggressive option we could, which is slashing the price more than 50 percent on the entry point," Higgins said. "Our strategy is really clear: We want to open the building sold out."
Craig Depken, a UNC-Charlotte economics professor who specializes in sports economics, expressed "shock" concerning the 50 percent cut in price.
"The 50 percent reduction is dramatic but not surprising," Depken said. "This will be happening across the board.
"They might want to get the stadium sold out, take a hit the first year from where they could be on (ticket) prices, but the people are in the building and they are having a good time. And then the next year, maybe the ticket prices go up."
The Jets said they have sold 70 percent of their non-premium seats to existing season-ticket holders, but they have no plans to adjust the prices of the personal seat licenses in the new stadium. Higgins said there also are a few thousand upper-bowl non-PSL seats available.
"You never sell 100 percent to your existing season-ticket holders when you move to a new building," Higgins said. "Seventy percent, though, meets our internal projections. We are not going to be changing pricing in our other sections because they are selling according to our projections."
Sheely said an e-mail was sent to existing club-seat holders regarding the price cuts.
"It's basically to say you have the option to upgrade your location or buy additional seats now," Sheely said. "With the 50 percent cut, you can almost buy twice as many seats if you'd like."
But is such a cut just a matter of semantics?
"It's kind of funny the way it has been marketed, lowering prices on a stadium not opened yet," said Jon Greenberg, executive editor of Team Marketing Report, which surveys ticket prices in sports. "They did the smart thing. They talked to focus groups, which really said the prices are too high.
"It's always interesting to see when people decide to raise or lower ticket prices. These stories are going to come out a lot. ... They are discovering a lot of people can't afford this."
The Jets also are beginning an advertising campaign, which includes images of hard hits by New York players with the slogan: "Opportunity Has Never Knocked This Hard."
"There is a palpable sense that the team is moving in a different direction," Higgins said. "Woody Johnson has set the tenor that we're going to do whatever it takes to win every year and deliver a great experience to our fans on the field and off the field. The ad campaign taps into that sense."
Beginning Nov. 1, fans can call a team hotline to purchase tickets and visit newjetsstadium.com for more information. The Jets also will hold a one-day presale Friday for their Facebook fans to purchase season tickets in the new stadium.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press