Giants Giving Loyal Fans the Sack

The New York Giants are Super Bowl winners, world champions.

But they are nothing but world chumps when it comes to treating their loyal fan base.

Several weeks back, the Giants announced that they would impose one-time, personal seat license fees on all ticket-holders to help raise revenue for their new stadium, below, scheduled to open in time for the 2010 season.

All current season ticket-holders are being hit with fees ranging from $1,000 to $20,000, depending upon seat location, for the right to buy tickets for the new Giants Stadium.

That amounts to a write-off for corporations and tip money for the rich and famous. But it’s a steep price for the average fan, the working-class hero, with a mortgage, bills and kids in school.

My friend Rich and his family have been Giants’ season-ticket holders for nearly 50 years, since 1960, before Y.A. Tittle, when the team played in Yankee Stadium. The tickets originally belonged to my buddy’s father, then were passed down to his sons.

They’re great seats, field level, around the 45-yard-line, 20 rows behind the Giants bench. Now Rich and his brother are facing a PSL of $10,000 for each seat, along with a rise in ticket prices from $90 to $140 per game.

They’re debating whether they to keep their seats, downgrade location, or give up the tickets entirely.

“We are not interested in getting new blood,” said Giants chief executive John Mara when asked if the PSL concept might result in the loss of present season ticket holders. “We have a very loyal fan base who have been there for a long time, and we want to keep them in the building.”

Although Mara said all the right worlds, the truth is some of those loyal fans will no longer be able to see their beloved Giants.


One Comment on “Giants Giving Loyal Fans the Sack”

  1. J.J. says:

    Thought you might enjoy seeing this letter I sent to John Mara. Anyone who feels similarly betrayed should let the Giants know — it’s hard to stay a fan after the way they’re treating us.

    Dear Mr. Mara;

    The other day my parents received the letter inviting them to purchase two seat licenses for $20,000 apiece. This to get seats equivalent to the ones they occupied in Giants Stadium for 32 years. They also had seats in Shea and Yankee Stadiums, keeping the faith when the teams were dreadful and reveling in the victories.

    Having read your recent letter, though, now they are disgusted. The entire family is.

    Of course, change is necessary and good. Without it Giants Stadium wouldn’t exist and the exciting new stadium wouldn’t be possible. Eli would not have evolved into a Super Bowl MVP. The equipment would be outdated and dangerous, the food options in the stadium would be worse, and the fans wouldn’t have Jumbotrons.

    But the way they’re priced, the seat licenses aren’t change. They’re a ransom. Great seats are insanely priced. All things being relative, the cheapest seats cost a commensurately ridiculous amount.

    It’s easy to find arguments in favor of the licenses. Other teams are doing it. Other teams also have players with rap sheets 100 yards long, goofy cheerleaders, and revolving door ownership. Do you want those, too?

    You want more opportunities for corporate support. Terrific. Carve out a part of the stadium for that. Make sure it’s not too close to the people who go to games because they know and like the team, its players, and its traditions. And get ready for boatloads of empty seats during the lean years. Or haven’t you noticed that other stadiums are full of fair weather fans?

    Last, you need the money. Apparently you need lots of money. Such is the world of modern sports. But if the only way to pay for your business is to alienate your loyal customers, the business is ultimately doomed.

    I grew up a fan. We had two seats on the 48 yard line, 12th row. Most of the time my parents went to the games without me. Their best friends had the neighboring seats and the Giants helped keep that friendship alive for almost half a century.

    But every now and then, maybe once a year, I’d get a ticket. I remember walking down the steps to the seats and, everytime, watching in awe as we got closer and closer to the players. It felt like you could touch them. Experience proved you could yell to them and get their attention.

    I sat there in the freezing cold, unable to fully feel my feet again until an hour after the final whistle. I sat there with my dad when I as a kid, a teen, a college student, and as an adult living on my own but still cherishing the time to be part of a family tradition.

    I went with my best friend, siblings, and avid fans I happened to know who just wanted to see what great seats were like. Last February, I even got to see the team shock the Patriots, a victory made all-the-sweeter by the fact that I moved to Boston 10 years ago but have steadfastly remained a Giants fan.

    One of the best parts of it all was that for all the years I’ve been going to the games, I’ve seen familiar faces throughout the section. They weren’t rich people who could afford $20,000 seat licenses. They are simply folks who made enough to save enough every year to indulge their love of the Giants. I never knew their names. The Giants connected us.

    Oh well. So much for tradition. So much for hopes of someday letting my own children feel the magic of live Giants football.

    From your standpoint, I suppose it makes no difference. You’ll get the money because somebody will buy the seats. Law firms, ad agencies, banks, and consultants will leap at the chance to have another perk with which to woo clients and reward employees.

    But the next generation of Maras won’t be sharing the stadium with the next generation of fans. The old Giants family will now simply be the Giants corporation. It’s business. Nothing personal.

    As for me, I’ll probably still watch games on TV when I can. But I’ll never feel truly connected to the team again. Is that really what you wanted?

    (name withheld)

    cc: S. Tisch, M. Stevens, P. Hanlon

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