Today I can report that one of the longest-running scams in Wisconsin is coming to an end. There's no need to thank law enforcement, the state Division of Consumer Protection or the Better Business Bureau for cracking down on these scammer because the Green Bay Packers have voluntarily decided to stop charging regular season prices for pre-season tickets.
To me, it was always the height of the NFL's arrogance to believe that their product is so great that people should fork out the same amount for games that count in the standings and those that don't count--and usually feature extended playing time for guys that never make the final roster. The Packers used to justify this ripoff by saying that fans attending pre-season games were "still getting the full Lambeau Field Experience". I guess they meant that you still had to pay $30 to park, you still sat on an aluminum bench, watered-down beer was still $8.00 a can, they still played that stupid Todd Rundgren song after touchdowns and the drunk guy two rows behind you still yelled as many profanities at the players as he did during regular season games.
To show you how badly ticket buyers were getting jobbed, the Packers are lowering those pre-season prices by nearly 50% across the board. I saw the sheepish look on Vice President Aaron Popkey's face while talking to the media yesterday about how season ticketholders can now re-sell their useless pre-season tickets for "something closer to their real value"--which, let's be honest, is next to nothing.
Which brings me to the one element of the pre-season ticket scam that will continue: their purchase will remain mandatory for season ticket holders. Even at reduced prices, the Packers know that without forcing their customers to buy the exhibition tickets few people will actually want them--no matter how great the "Lambeau Field Experience" may be. You may be old enough to remember when Packers pre-season games weren't on live TV because they didn't sell out. And when you would watch the tape-delayed replay on Sunday afternoon you would see that Lambeau was half-full at best. Eventually, the light went on over Bob Harlan's head--"Let's force season ticketholders to buy the pre-season as well! What are they going to do--give up their cherished spot on the list?"
At least it's a first step toward no longer completely ripping off the customer. Now they just need to trim the number of exhibition games to two. Unless the team needs all of that money to buy more land and to build more hotels to--you know--"stay competitive with the rest of the league".