By J Hutcherson – WASHINGTON, DC (Feb 17, 2011) US Soccer Players — Years ago, I had a friend explain to me the difference between life in London and life in Liverpool. As he told it, in Liverpool when someone was overcharging for something it was almost apologetically. "You know I'd give it to you for free if I could." In London, it immediately turned to your actual and personal worth. In other words, 'are you cheap?'
Well, apparently UEFA has decided to test my friend's model. The pleasure of seeing the Champions League final at Wembley starts at just under $245 dollars for the general sale. Add in that convenience fee so beloved of ticket sellers and so despised by the rest of us, and the total per ticket ends up at just under $287 dollars.
Now, in fairness that's well below the Super Bowl, who responded to the recession in January, 2009 by deigning to put a thousand tickets on regular sale for $500 dollars. The normal prices that year were $800 and a thousand. But, the Super Bowl had already established those prices. That's not the case for buying tickets to the Champions League final.
Making a case of it now might stop the escalation before it hits NFL numbers. Not that the NFL's pricing policy stops the support of the teams actually playing from showing up in numbers. After all, the NFL figured out this year that they can sell tickets for outside the Super Bowl stadium (watching the game on big screens) for $200 a person. It's worth keeping in mind that those were offered as a four-pack, meaning the real cost was a thousand dollars
If that's the future for the UEFA pricing model, they've got a public relations campaign in need of waging.
Look, we all know the media likes nothing better than an easy talking point, and that's what UEFA has provided with yet another price increase for Champions League final tickets. At the same time, it's up to the fans to determine what's reasonable. NFL fans have sent a message to their league that the tickets will sell at the going rate. In fact, they've sent a message that they'll sell the first time around and again on the secondary markets.
Too much was made a couple of years ago with Super Bowl tickets moving for less than expected on those secondary markets. What was missed is that they were still moving, and it wasn't the NFL shouldering the loss for tickets that sold the second time for less than what they originally cost.
If UEFA is intent on selling the Champions League final as an event, and the move to Saturday with the ticket increase would seem to suggest they're doing just that, there are worse models to follow. Soccer fans like to point out that the World Cup final dwarfs whatever number the NFL publicly pushes for Super Bowl viewers. Fair enough, but it's not a direct comparison between the club and the National Team game. The Champions League comes much closer, and in fact might be unfair in favor of the NFL. They don't have the luxury of multiple countries playing their sport at the same high level.
With that in mind, it's almost a criticism of the UEFA model if they can't turn the Champions League final into the biggest annual night in European pro sports. Just like the NFL turned a domestic league championship into the biggest event in North American sports.
Comments, questions, solutions to problems that have yet to present themselves. Please, tell me all about it.