Colts ticket price hike has far-reaching effects

March 1, 2010
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

All Indianapolis Colts season ticket holders will see a price increase in 2010. That’s the simple analysis.

Now for a little context.

My four-function calculator tells me the Colts will boost ticket revenue by $3.4 million to $4.4 million next year. The high end comes if the Colts host a playoff game or two.

The Colts last season generated about $55 million in ticket revenue at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts’ 2010 hike is not a huge percentage increase, but one no doubt Colts fans will feel. They’re not the only ones who will feel the pain.

That $4 million or so increase also likely comes at the expense of the Indiana Pacers, Indianapolis Indians, area movie theaters, and other entertainment outlets.

The truth is, there are only so many discretionary dollars to go around in any market, and in one the size of Indianapolis, that number could easily be calculated on my four-function calculator as well.

With a 16,000-deep season ticket waiting list, and the Colts still a threat to win a Super Bowl, the team’s faithful will fork over the extra bucks, no doubt. But that still means Colts’ ticket holders have fewer discretionary dollars to throw at other entertainment outlets—especially in a down economy.

So what are other NFL teams doing? The Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints haven’t announced their plans yet. But I’m guessing it’s going to cost a tad more to sit in the Super Dome next year.

The Colts join the ranks of the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills as teams increasing ticket prices. The New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns are standing pat.

As a general rule, NFL teams in this economy seem to hike their ticket prices every other or every third year.

The Colts, for the most part, are increasing their tickets $4 or $5 across the board. A little more for a few of the prime seats. The Bears, on the other hand, have a wider range of increases. Chicago fans will see hikes ranging from $2 to $17 for non-club seats and $10 to $20 for club seats in 2010.

There’s one last thing to consider when pondering these ticket prices. Where the teams stand in league rank regarding ticket prices. The Bills for instance have long offered one of the NFL’s lowest ticket prices.

Not so for the Patriots and Colts.

According to Team Marketing Report, the Colts last season had an average ticket price of $82.79, above the $74.99 league average. The 2010 increase might push the Colts’ ticket prices even a bit higher than league average.

But the Colts aren’t in the same league as the Dallas Cowboys and Patriots, who are No. 1 and No. 2 in terms of ticket prices. The Cowboys average ticket price for 2009 was $159.65, according to Team Marketing Report and the Patriots came in with an average price of $117.84.

Even with their 2010 increase, the Bills are still quite a bargain. With a 2009 average ticket price of $51.24, they have quite a way to go to reach league average.

The Saints face the trickiest dilemma of all. My guess is that’s why the champs haven’t announced their plans yet.

The team’s 2009 average ticket price of $62.22 was among the lowest in the NFL. New Orleans’ economy is still in post-Katrina recovery mode. But team owner Tom Benson isn’t usually in the giving mood, and he’s bound to want to strike while the iron is hot.

But how much is too much for this small-market town? If Benson overreaches here, he could kill all or most of the good will that Drew Brees and the Lombardi Trophy have delivered to the Bayou this season.

Ticket pricing is a tricky business no matter what city a team is in. That’s why teams don’t send out press releases trumpeting it. Each season ticket holder gets a notice in the mail—with a form prompting renewal of course.

It’s the worst kind of guessing game for a team’s sales honchos. A conservative approach causes a team to leave money on the table in the near term.

Too aggressive and the long-term damage is incalculable.  

  • do what you must
    I guess the Colts are doing what they think they must, or doing what the market will yield. I hope they are storing some cash in a rainy day fund for when Peyton retires.
  • Bills? Seriously?
    The products you listed aren't comparable. The Pats are priced for "see the same quarterback who's won 3 Super Bowls in the last decade". The Colts are priced to see the best regular season team ever.

    The Bills are probably priced higher than the market will bear for that product...which is why they will play a game or two each year in Toronto.
  • Not Renewing
    Not renewing this year. Have been a STH since '84. Last year's 3-game exhibition at regular prices, coupled with the increase at the Luke, make staying home a good idea this year.
  • They have gone too far
    Todd, you are right. Colts have milked this market for all it's worth. They are on razor's edge. I hope they have a rainy day fund. Th'Mutt, if you don't compare NFL franchises to one another, how else would you put these price increases into proper perspective. Of course, the markets are different. But you still have to draw a league-wide comparison.
  • Thought this was a small market?
    In spite of the Colts performance on the field, there is a bit of a disconnect with the Colts being in the upper half of the league in ticket prices while being in one of the smallest markets in the league. This is the second year in a row the "cheap seats" have been increased. They went from $24 in 2008 to $34 in 2009 to (according to media report) $38 in 2010. That's a huge increase over a two year period. They must really want to test how strong that waiting list actually is.
    • colts ticket prices
      I don't like a price increase, but my seats went up $5 over two years. Sorry, but that is not all that outrageous, particularly for the entertainment value.

      The cheap seats at $38, that still sounds pretty cheap for an NFL game.
    • colts tickets
      If you don't want your tickets , we will take them!!
    • Cheap Seats, Awful View
      Tim, you may think it's cheap at $38 per person... but the view is awful. I would never pay $38 per person for an awful view and expensive concessions. I'll stay at home and watch it on TV if I can't get a ticket on the sides in the upper level (granted it's still expensive, but at least a better view). Look a little closer... all of the sides on the upper level were $74 a person (you could be in the last row at the 20-yard line and still pay $74 a person), then $54 in the corners and only $34 was only in the upper end zone (only the end zone without the opening window).
      I agree with Indy Editor... it may be a Super Bowl team, but this is a small market. And I think they are starting to stretch on how much this small market is willing to pay. They may be testing that waiting list a little more this year. And we'll see if only the "haves" are willing to support the team, in ticket sales.
      • cheap seats, awful view
        Aren't the cheapest seats SUPPOSED to be the least desirable? That is the way it works at concerts and sporting events!!
      • Cheap seats not so cheap
        When I talked with the Colts VP for ticket operations before last season when the tickets upstairs increased from $24 to $34 a seat, he said it had to do with being able to determine the sightlines of the seats in the new stadium.

        This time, there was no letter explaining why the seats were going up again. I am re-upping but I am NOT happy.

        Do the Colts really care...I doubt it. It's a business, right? They can get away with that when they have Peyton and 16,000 people waiting. Let's see what those seats cost in a few years from now when #18 retires and maybe they are not winning 12+ games a year.
      • A fair point from Colts
        I've gotten a fair amount of input about this post, not just comments here, but emails and phone calls as well. Colts Sr. VP Pete Ward emailed me this morning and I think he has a fair point. He said the headline for this post could have read: "Colts raise prices less than 4% over two years, despite going 26-6 and winning AFC Championship!" And I do think it's very fair to point out that the Colts have invested in and put a premium product on the field. Lots of major league teams don't do as much.

      • Not adding up
        $24 to $38 is not a 4% increase. More like a 60% increase for that price point. Maybe other price points have had a 4% or smaller increase... but it seems the little guy is getting squeezed more.
      • not adding up
        Well my bf is paying $265 for two tickets to Buffett, vs. $38 each to see Peyton. So we aren't complaining too loud, although we hate to see any increase at all.
      • Really?
        Well, when Buffett starts playing in Indianapolis 10-12 times in one year (counting pre-season and potential playoffs)... come back to me with that comparison. And unless your "bf" got scalped, your $265 for 2 tickets isn't putting you in the back corner of the lawn (or anywhere in the lawn for that matter) at Verizon Wireless... it's at least putting you in the pavilion. But guessing that "Zville" means you live in Zionsville... yeah, you probably aren't too concerned with the price then.

        I understand that you pay more for better seats at any venue. But using the $34 seats as an example, it is certainly larger than a 4% increase at that price point over 2 years. Same for the $54 seats and $74 seats. So, are they getting away with saying "less than 4% over 2 years" by putting a much smaller increase on the rest of the stadium? Also... I don't consider $38 x 2 = $76, without any concessions to be "cheap" just so you can be in the stadium. Maybe some of you do, but multiply $76 x 10 (the home season with pre-season games) and that's $760... for the "cheapest" seats!.

        Oh well, I'm sure it will be "spun" some other way... and based on some of the responses on here, people will probably pay up. Eh, good for me... they sell out, I can watch on the big screen at home. Regardless, we'll find out one way or the other before the start of the season how much they may or may not have to eat into that waiting list.
      • colts fan??
        I would never go see Buffett 10 times a year. I have no problem watching one of the most exciting football teams in history play 10 times a year!!
      • cost
        I hate the cost of entertainment today.

        In defense of the Colts, I would imagine paying guys like Manning, Freeney, etc. makes it impossible to charge what Buffalo charges

        It is also all relative. I am sure a lot of people think paying $84 for a Colts game is a better value than paying $54 for a Bills game, or $20 for a Pacers game. Just depends on what you want and what you can afford.
      • Check for us on StubHub
        We'll be doing what we do every year. Buy our season tickets (600 level, 25 yard line, visitors side), select three games to go to, donate two preseason games to a kids' charity so that some kids can go see a game, albeit an exhibition, sell other games to family and friends who are interested, and put anything else up on StubHub. It's worked for us for several years. Judging by the revolving door of fans sitting near us, others do the same thing.
      • Well...
        There is a waiting list of 16,000 people. The stadium holds around 70,000. The waiting list shows the colts there is still a high demand for tickets. Supply short, demand high, means they can get away with raising prices. For those of you who keep your season tickets to sell and profit using Stubhub, SHAME ON U! Give them up to real fans on the list.
      • Real Numbers
        A.J., Pete is a good guy, maybe a little myopic. My seats went up 45% when they moved across the street to the Luke ($44-$64). Ask Pete to factor those costs in. Anyway, good for those that choose to pay and go. Me, I'll save over $2k (tix, parking, concessions) this year alone.
      • not adding up
        Man, is our town spoiled or what!
      • Colts are Great for this City
        I am a season ticket holder and yes, I renewed my tickets...without question. The Colts are one of the best things to happen to our fair city! Not to many teams can say they have a waiting list, so if you dont' want your tickets, give them up. But I for one will buy my season tickets regardless of whether we are 12-4 or 4-12.
      • Well, well...
        Looks like some of those season ticket holders may be falling off after all. Just got a text from the Colts, that includes a link to this announcement:

        "Season Ticket Renewals
        By Colts Tickets

        Colts Season Ticket Holders were required to renew their season tickets by Tuesday, March 30th. If you are a Season Ticket Holder and you have yet to submit your payment, you can still go online and pay through your Colts Ticket Account (Payments will only be accepted for a limited time).

        Click here and use your ID# and password to log in (this information can be found on your invoice). The Colts Ticket Office plans to proceed with seat relocation and addition processes very soon.

        Thank you again for your loyal support as we anticipate another great season in 2010! Go Colts!"

        Sounds to me like they're scrambling now... sending out a mass announcement 2 days after the due date. Obviously they didn't get the number of people they wanted to renew. Better start working that "long waiting list".
      • Didn't renew
        I have had season tickets for 7 years....great seats, row 1 of the 300 level, sidelines.....however, I didn't renew. I wouldn't have renewed my tickets even if the ticket prices stayed the same. After the Colts "gave away" the chance for the perfect season.....what's the point of going to any of regular season games...The Colts are always going to end up short of a perfect season.....ALWAYS....I'll just scalp tickets whenever I want to go (for below face value) and not be subject to the "2 game preseason tax".....I don't think I will go to many games this year....just sick of the way they handled it all last year. I'm glad I was out of town and sold my Jets ticket last year as that was outright embarrassing.....Actually, glad they lost the Superbowl. I got the same email days after my season tickets were due "begging" me to renew.....NO WAY!

      Post a comment to this blog

      We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
      You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
      Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
      No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
      We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

      Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

      Sponsored by
      1. I'm sure Indiana is paradise for the wealthy and affluent, but what about the rest of us? Over the last 40 years, conservatives and the business elite have run this country (and state)into the ground. The pendulum will swing back as more moderate voters get tired of Reaganomics and regressive social policies. Add to that the wave of minority voters coming up in the next 10 to 15 years and things will get better. unfortunately we have to suffer through 10 more years of gerrymandered districts and dispropionate representation.

      2. Funny people telling poor people how bad the other rich people are wanting to cut benefits/school etc and that they should vote for those rich people that just did it. Just saying..............

      3. Good try, Mr. Irwin, but I think we all know the primary motivation for pursuing legal action against the BMV is the HUGE FEES you and your firm expect to receive from the same people you claim to be helping ~ taxpayers! Almost all class action lawsuits end up with the victim receiving a pittance and the lawyers receiving a windfall.

      4. Fix the home life. We're not paying for your child to color, learn letters, numbers and possible self control. YOU raise your children...figure it out! We did. Then they'll do fine in elementary school. Weed out the idiots in public schools, send them well behaved kids (no one expects perfection) and watch what happens! Oh, and pray. A mom.

      5. To clarify, the system Cincinnati building is just a streetcar line which is the cheapest option for rail when you consider light rail (Denver, Portland, and Seattle.) The system (streetcar) that Cincy is building is for a downtown, not a city wide thing. With that said, I think the bus plan make sense and something I shouted to the rooftops about. Most cities with low density and low finances will opt for BRT as it makes more financial and logistical sense. If that route grows and finances are in place, then converting the line to a light rail system is easy as you already have the protected lanes in place. I do think however that Indy should build a streetcar system to connect different areas of downtown. This is the same thing that Tucson, Cincy, Kenosha WI, Portland, and Seattle have done. This allows for easy connections to downtown POI, and allows for more dense growth. Connecting the stadiums to the zoo, convention center, future transit center, and the mall would be one streetcar line that makes sense.