Allen Park — After record-setting attendance at Ford Field last season, and the hiring of coach Matt Patricia, the Detroit Lions are sending a letter informing season-ticket holders that prices will increase for the 2018 season.
It marks the fifth consecutive year the team has raised ticket prices.
The price increases will vary by seat location, but on average, jumps 3.4 percent. The biggest increases are for the stadium’s best seats — in the lower bowl between the 30-yard lines. Fans in those sections will be paying 18.2 percent more in 2018, while more than 10,000 of the stadium’s seats will see increases of less than one percent.
The average Lions ticket will cost $103, which continues to rank in the bottom quartile, and well below league-average.
“We’re trying to be very strategic in repricing tickets based on where they’re located, what’s the demand, what’s the secondary market telling us,” team president Rod Wood said. “How does that stack up to other teams in the league? I don’t want to get to a point where we price ourselves out of a full stadium. I always want a full stadium.”
The Lions had no problem packing the stadium last season, averaging more than 64,000 fans for the team’s eight regular-season home games. The team posted four of its 10 best single-game attendance marks in the stadium’s history and released standing-room only tickets for six of the games. The team’s 5.5 percent increase in attendance from the previous year was the league’s biggest.
Wood believes the attendance numbers reflect a combination of a better product on the field playing meaningful games in December, investments into the stadium experience and a blossoming downtown area that offers fans more to do before and after games.
Since Wood became president in late 2015, he’s been aggressive addressing the wish list of fans. The team has redone the stadium’s lighting and sound system, upgraded the Wi-Fi, installed larger, high-definition scoreboards and added a cheerleading team.
Additionally, the Ford family committed $100 million to upgrading the stadium’s suites and club levels in 2017, including the installation of Loge Boxes, a premium four-seat section with recliners with unlimited food and drinks.
This season, Wood said there are two areas the team is looking to upgrade.
First, the Lions want to improve traffic flow in and out of games. The team hired a consultant to analyze patterns during the final two games last season and improvements will be considered once the report is completed. Secondly, upgrades to halftime entertainment are a priority.
“We’re creatively thinking about things to do at halftime to keep fans engaged, entertained and hopefully in their seats so that we have a full bowl at the start of the second half,” Wood said.
Another item on the docket to be analyzed this offseason are concession costs. Last year, the Atlanta Falcons made national headlines by offering the lowest concession prices in professional sports at the team’s new home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
It was a move the Falcons could afford to test out, given significant ticket price increases and $500 to $45,000 one-time personal seat license fees the stadium charged its season-ticket holders.
Still, the public relations move of lowering concessions surprisingly turned out to be a solid business decision. It was recently reported the team made more money, per fan, on concessions last season.
Wood said his team will meet about concession pricing in a few months, but Atlanta’s results will be part of the evaluation process.
“We look what other stadiums in Detroit are charging, what other NFL teams are charging,” Wood said. “I’m sure as we get into the analysis of that — and we actually have the same concession company, Levy, as the one that does Atlanta, so we have some inside information from them — we’ll be able to learn first-hand how that worked. And if there’s things we can benefit from, that help the fans, help us provide a great experience to the fans and sell more, I would certainly be interested in it.”
A final item from the letter to season-ticket holders notes the Lions are switching ticket providers from Veritix to Ticketmaster.