Smart SpendingSmart Spending

NFL is back; can you afford it?

It's definitely not cheap to love your team, especially if you want to flaunt your devotion.

By doubleace Jul 25, 2011 3:19PM

This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.


Pro football has been saved. Has the average NFL fan saved enough money to enjoy it?


The National Football League's owners and players have been bickering over a few billion dollars for some time and reportedly are just a few hours away from returning to the field after a months-long lockout.


But where are those billions coming from? The paying public, of course. Love affairs do not come cheap. Here's a quick rundown on the true price of being a real fan: 


Television. Yes, all the games of the hometown team will be televised, free and in high-def. But what if you grew up wishing you were former Seattle quarterback Dave Krieg -- it must have happened -- but now live in Omaha. You get to watch the Seahawks once, maybe twice, a season.


A solution is DirecTV's Sunday Ticket, which will allow you to watch just about every Sunday game of every NFL team. But it's spendy, especially if you are interested in watching only one Sunday game. Post continues after video.

First of all, you have to subscribe to DirecTV's satellite service, which begins at $30 a month. Then you have to add Sunday Ticket, a mere $335 a season (spread over five equal payments).


For the weekday games -- excepting Monday Night Football -- you have to get the NFL Network, which is free on DirecTV and costs about $5 a month on other satellite and cable services that carry it (cable giant Time Warner does not).


If you are willing to watch the games on a 17-inch or smaller screen, DirecTV will sell you, for $350 a season, streaming video of all its games for your computer, iPad or smartphone.


Tickets. NFL football is perfect for TV, but there is still nothing like going to the game, being with the crowd, sitting too far away to read a player's number, stuck next to some guy who has been drinking beer since 9 a.m., and missing most of the plays because the people in front of you leap up at every 2-yard off-tackle run.


Such joy doesn't come cheap. According to Team Marketing Report, the average NFL ticket in 2010 cost $76.47, with the New England Patriots topping the list at $117.84 and the Jacksonville Jaguars the cheapest at $57.34.


Of course, you can buy better seats. "Premium" seating costs an average of $566.67 for the Patriots, but only $139.93 if you belong to Raider Nation.


Parking. Location, location, location. You will spend $150 a game to leave your car in Lot 10 at Cowboys Stadium, just a short post route from your seat. Parking is $22 at a private lot 0.7 of a mile away.


Parking costs in the NFL are based on distance and demand. Everyone drives to Cowboys games, and they pay about $75, but in New York, where tickets to the Jets and Giants are among the league's most expensive, availability of mass transit has kept parking to $25. Parking for the Carolina Panthers, who won just two games last season, was $20.


Concessions. Ah, stadium cuisine. While a great hot dog will cost you $1.50 (including drink) at Costco, a wiener will run you $6 or $7 in most NFL stadiums and another $5 for a soda. A 12-ounce domestic beer? $8. No wonder folks fill up by tailgating before the game.


Team wear. Nothing says you're a fan like a team jersey. OK, you can paint your house a tasteful black with gold trim in Pittsburgh, but clothing is much cheaper.


Jerseys come in three varieties. "Authentic" costs the most because it is made of the same material the players wear. "Replica" is cheaper because it is, well, cheaper: lighter material with the numbers painted on instead of sewn. "Customized" is generally the least expensive because it comes with your name on it instead of a player's. It usually is given to you by a relative who doesn't understand the game.


Prices vary greatly, depending on the popularity of a player, the success of a team and the time of year. A jersey will cost you a bundle during a Super Bowl season, but will be worth it in prestige 20 years later, and not just because it still fits.


According to the NFL Shop, you have buy the authentic jersey of Dallas quarterback Tony Romo for $225, but pay just $65 for a replica. A Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick replica is $85, and the NFL Shop doesn't even offer an authentic.


Overall cost. Taking your family of four to a NFL game can cost you a month's car payment, or maybe a house payment if you live in the rural Midwest. According to Team Marketing Report, it cost $617 to go to a Cowboys game in 2010, an awful lot of money for a team that won just six times.


The best bargain was an Atlanta Falcons game: $378 for a team that won 13 games. The league average cost was $421.


Fantasy football. If you don't care who wins or loses, but only how they play the game, you can participate in competition based on players' individual performances. Your team is an amalgamation of players from different teams, and you field the players you think will produce the best statistics -- usually passing, receiving and rushing.


Fantasy leagues can be free -- CBS Sports, for example, offers one with a $10,000 first prize -- but in most cases, either in those sponsored by organizations or played just among friends, everyone throws money into a pool and you split it up on a game-by-game or season basis. CBS, for instance, also offers leagues with $40, $100, $200 and $500 buy-ins for season-long competition.


More on MSN Money.

Jul 26, 2011 1:42PM
Way to make a lot of ignorant assumptions there M-Diddy.  I'm not a bone-head sports fanatic if that's what you mean.  I have other more useful things to spend my time and money on.  But you go on ahead and have a good time fighting the crowds, finding parking and spending a lot of money to watch a bunch of Prima Donnas getting sweaty.  I won't make any idiotic assumptions about you. 
Jul 27, 2011 5:21PM
So what... If you enjoy the game you'll pay. I of course will not go to, or watch, every game (I do have a life after all), but I personally enjoy football. Are the players overpaid? Of course! Are parking and concessions overpriced? Absolutely! BUT... most recreational activities are overpriced these days. How much for a family of four to go to a movie? Let's see... Tickets: $10.50 x 4 = $42.00. Regular popcorn and soda (combo price) $12.50 x 4 = $50.00 + $42.00 = 92.00. That's $92.00 folks. To see a freakin' movie. Theater (live theater) is even more expensive. A day at the water park or a theme park? Even more expensive. See... It's all expensive. But if you enjoy the experience, the money is secondary. So quit yer whinin'. If you don't enjoy it or think it's to expensive... Then DON'T GO!!! No one is forcing anyone to spend time or money they don't want to spend. GET OVER IT!!!
Jul 25, 2011 11:37PM
Isn't it funny how sports fans say "We're #1" when the local team is doing well, but when the team is losing its "They suck" not "We suck"?
Jul 27, 2011 3:59PM
Those "cost for a family of 4" numbers are crap. Nobody says you HAVE to buy overpriced concessions or team gear at the stadium!
Jul 28, 2011 11:43AM
Who's to say the players are "overpaid"? I sounds like good 'ol Free Market Economics to me. There is a very limited pool of people with the skills required to play a sport at the pro level, much less then can teach 3rd grade for example. Low supply and high demand = high wages, which the employer and employee freely negotiate. If you do not wish to participate, then feel free not to.
Jul 28, 2011 11:26AM

What a waste of $...I feel bad for the spouses and children, who may be going without something important because of the selfishness of the fan in the family.


Wish I could find a guy like my dad, who wouldn't waste a moment's time or $ on sports. He was no pansy either - from depression-era 1st-generation farm family, fought WWII (after joining at age 17; family couldn't afford for him to continue & finish H.S.), worked in coal mines & steel mills

Jul 25, 2011 10:40PM
Moneyhawk either isn't athletic or has no friends to go to a game with.  I'm guessing both.Crying
Jul 27, 2011 5:29PM
Totally agree with moneyhawk. In fact, I don't support any of the "entertainment" industries. I won't help rich people get more so.
When my CD comes out I do hope some people make me rich though.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.