- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 6, 2001

The Washington Redskins have the most expensive tickets in the National Football League for the fourth time in five seasons, with an average price of $81.89 — more than $28 higher than the league average.

The Redskins also have the highest Fan Cost Index again this season, a survey released yesterday by Team Marketing Report showed. The index tallies the cost of four average-price tickets, two small beers, four small sodas, four hot dogs, two programs, two caps and parking. The total came to $442.54 for the Redskins. The NFL average is $303.33.

The Redskins, who ranked No. 2 in ticket prices last season, did not raise ticket prices this season. But prices will soar again next year, when the team will begin raising club seat prices by as much as 140 percent.

The ranking by the Chicago sports industry newsletter takes into account all regular and club seats but excludes luxury suites.

The Redskins have had the NFL's highest Fan Cost Index each year since Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, now FedEx Field, opened in 1997.

The Redskins' return to the top of the Team Marketing Report ticket-price list has not ended debate stemming from last year's survey. The 2000 list ranked the Redskins No. 2 with an average ticket price of $64.66 — even though most of FedEx Field's seats started at $75 last season, the average ticket cost in 1999 was $74.28 and prices were increased 8 percent before the 2000 season.

Redskins officials successfully pressured Team Marketing Report's editors to lower the team's ticket figures for the 2000 survey, saying the publication had included the prices of luxury suites in the past and skewed the rankings. The newsletter, however, has never sought suite prices for its surveys.

This year's survey and the higher Redskins number are the result of a more accurate detailing of the cost of club seats, editor Kurt Hunzeker said. FedEx Field has the largest club section in the NFL with 15,735 seats.

"These numbers are supplied by each team and verified by each team," Mr. Hunzeker said. "We have full confidence in these numbers."

Redskins officials say the survey wrongly includes fees beyond the $75 base price for the club seats. Those fees escalate club seat prices from $100 to $320 at FedEx Field, with the new increases set to come when multiyear contracts for those seats begin to expire after this season. The additional, required fees pay for amenities like indoor lounges and waiter service.

"These are distorted figures," Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson said. "As soon as you include club seat fees or licenses of any kind, it creates an apples-to-oranges comparison because every team's club seats offer something different. Even if you included our full club seat fees, their figures are wrong."

The Redskins' average ticket price for 2001 topped the league average of $53.64 by a whopping 53 percent.

That leaguewide average rose 8.7 percent from 2000 and again makes the NFL the most expensive spectator sport in the United States. The NFL, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League have leapfrogged over each other in the past several years as the most expensive sport to see. The NBA's 2000-01 average ticket cost of $51.34 likely will rise enough this coming season to overtake the NFL.

NFL ticket prices have soared 113 percent since 1991. New, high-end stadiums are responsible for much of the increases. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos open new facilities this fall. Seven more teams will finish construction or renovation efforts by 2004. Then 19 teams will be playing in stadiums that opened since 1995.

The Baltimore Ravens rank 18th with an average ticket cost of $50.14 and 19th in Fan Cost Index at $292.56.

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