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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Do PSL's Really Make Football Better, Or Worse For Fans

(Photo: Capt. Jet)

Do PSL's Really Make Football Better? Or Worse For Fans

By David Levy-Fan Experience Reporter-Football Reporters Online/Pro Football NYC

Since August of 2008, I have been filming a documentary about the New York Jets PSL situation and how the fans have had their ups and downs with it. Over this past season, many fans have kind of settled into new positions in the new parking structure. Set up like the hierarchy of rings that used to exist in medieval times. Where the royalty would be in the middle close to the castle and the further you went out, the lower in class it became. The higher priced parking passes are closer to the stadium. Ones with non PSL seats have to park over by the Izod Center. You tell me what type of message the Jets are sending to their fans.

Many long time season ticket holders who have had tailgating groups for years feel cheated by not just the new parking system, but from the PSL's as well. Many were not able to get seats next to friends like they have in years past. Those with cheaper PSL's or NON PSL seats can not sit with those in the lower bowl. Also, Mary Lou Wilson who parks in the Green parking said some long time friends they tailgated with in old section 13A have the non PL seats do not want to bring all their gear over to the green parking. Even though Mary Lou and her kids can park over there, they still have friends in the green parking to tailgate with. Who wants to lug all that gear and waste time just to have to drag it all back early?

Bruce Speight, Senior Director of Media Relations, told me they did what they could to appease fans. But you can not please them all. I wonder what true steps they took to find out what the fans wanted. I know they did send a survey out via e mail two years ago. But did anyone from the Jets organization act like the Census and go from tailgate to tailgate to get the fans opinions. Probably not. They do not mind sending face painters out there to charge for face painting. Maybe if the team spent time walking through the lots talking to fans and truly got to know what they wanted, sales could have gone faster.

This is something sports writers do not cover, especially sports beat writers. there is always a focus on the players, coaches, on and off the field events, and even trades. There are not many sports writers that cover the business decisions teams makes, how it affects the fans, or even the fans in general. Occasionally, there are stories that appear about fans. But not too often. They mainly come about during the season, after a team or player has already made news about an issue. It may not be front page news, but is it news nonetheless. If there were no paying fans to show up, it would just be a bunch of guys playing ball. I guess while filming my documentary I had to take it upon myself to cover them and tell their side so they feel they have a voice. Fans care about news regarding the teams and their players. So the teams and players should care about what is going on with their fans.

Many long time tailgating groups have crumbled and become a shadow of its former self. I have talked about the Jets Pack a few times, but I have yet to talk about the Jets Nuts. The Jet Nuts have been coming just as long as the Jets Pack. You can always tell where the Jet Nuts are by their huge bus they always have. They are on their fourth bus right now. They have had hundreds over the years. But according to the organizers, it has dwindled down significantly. It is coming to a point where they are laying out more money than they are receiving from fans wanting to share in their tailgate. Many tailgate set ups charge a small fee to eat and drink at their tailgate. Rather than shrink it down they just might call it quits by years end. PSL's have not just separated fans in the stadium, but even in tailgating as well.

PSL's, for some, are a necessary evil. The Jets and Giants never said what other financing options they looked into before settling on the PSL's as a final option. If the New England Patriots can do it then any team can. Even though their stadium is in the middle of nowhere, small screen, no escalators, they still managed to do it all without PSL's. Sometimes I wonder if the new stadium was built for the fans or for the teams owners friends to enjoy a lavish place to watch football games and network for more business. Make it their own upscale country club. The Jets and Giants had no idea how much they tore their fan base apart.

Sports teams need to wake up and realize that bigger and better is not necessarily the way to go. There has to be a happy medium. The Jets have already doe this and is evident every time I film in the parking lot. I am here for the fans to be their voice. Hoping to show other sports franchises what PSL's can to do their own fan base. I know some fans do not care, they are willing to spend their money and do what the team says to do to keep going to games. Others have the kind of disposable income where they can afford to spend and do not care about what other fans think. It is this kind of thinking that shows team owners win and can do what they want.

The fans have the real power. If the fans were all on the same page then the teams would have to change how they set their prices and policies. The Jets learned this already with the PSL's and lowered prices. If the fans kept showing that solidarity, then we all win in the end. Not just the ones with deep pockets. Some will agree, others will disagree. But we all want to enjoy our game day experience with our friends and have that bond for years. Not to lose it because some friends who used to be able to afford tickets now can not. Makes me proud to be a reporter of the fans. Not just because I care, but because I am one of the ones who could not afford to keep my tickets. The fans are a story and I am the only one who sees it.

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