At a time when America is trying to cope with the financial fallout created by the deadly coronavirus, the renewal of NFL season tickets is not exactly a high priority. Not in the midst of soaring unemployment, business closures and a volatile stock market.
Most teams understand this, and have acted accordingly.
Twenty-eight of the 32 NFL clubs have reached out to season ticket holders with the offer of extending the next deadline for payment or negotiations on a case-by-case basis. Broncos fans faced a deadline for final payment on Feb. 1.
“There’s a lot of people who are being incredibly affected by this crisis and may not have the funds available to complete the purchase of their season tickets,” Ravens president Dick Cass said. “We’re dealing with a lot of season ticket holders who have been with us for 20 years and we don’t want to lose them. So we’re going to work with them, and hopefully we can find a solution that works for everybody.”
The Ravens announced Tuesday on Twitter that the final payment for 2020 tickets has been extended from May 15 to June 15.
David and Joanne Michaelson, who have owned their tickets since the team moved from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996, appreciated the gesture.
“Even people like us who can afford season tickets will face a tremendous amount of financial challenges in the coming months, and any little bit of financial assistance – even extending our payment deadline – will be helpful,” Joanne said.
Only three NFL teams – the Cowboys, 49ers and Bengals – apparently are maintaining the status quo regarding payments due.
The Cowboys have not yet reached out to their fans, although a longtime season ticket holder says that while the deadline for payment on personal seats licenses has already passed, it’s usually sometime in April before there’s an update on season tickets.
The San Francisco 49ers remain in a business-as-usual mode, and the Bengals say they are “still in the process of discussing the best way to proceed.”
The Eagles were in that category until Tuesday, when they informed season ticket holders that the team is extending the April 16 deadline. The team said, “As an organization, we want you to know we are here for you and we want to be supportive of you during this difficult time. … We are closely monitoring developments and will evaluate every option to ensure that you have flexibility to make your scheduled payments within a reasonable time.”
It’s a stance that has been adopted by most NFL teams, who are allowing fans to hold onto their money a bit longer before fulfilling their commitment for the 2020 season.
In a letter to season ticket holders, the Patriots wrote: “We hope that you and your family are safe and healthy during this difficult situation. To help ease some of your concerns during these uncertain times, we are immediately suspending the deadline for our annual Season Ticket Member invoices. The deadline is being extended to June 30, 2020.”
The Vikings told their fans: “We understand the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has created a number of challenges and stresses for each of us as we adapt to the rapidly evolving news along with changing family, work and community responsibilities. In an effort to be respectful of the current circumstances, we have made the decision to defer your final season ticket payment scheduled for Thursday, April 16, to Monday, June 1.”
The Dolphins went one step further. A team spokesperson noted that ticket holders will have a variety of different options in the current environment, including deferred payments or rolling over deposits for memberships to 2021 if they need relief.
For the most part, NFL franchises are seeking to make paying for season tickets an easier task.
In extending the next schedule payment from April 1 to July 1, the Falcons wrote: “All fans have to do is fill out the form in their email and we’ll take care of it for them. … We want to do what’s best for ALL of our season ticket holders by offering options during this trying time.”
Gary Knight of Greenwood, Indiana, now owns the Colts season tickets that his father bought in 1984 after the franchise relocated from Baltimore to Indy. He took up the team’s offer to work with him to complete the transaction
“I went over there and they talked through some different payment plans, with three payments, so yeah, I took advantage of that,” said Knight, who wonders if COVID-19 might impact the NFL experience in 2020.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we were getting our temperatures taken as we go into the stadium, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see quite a few masks at the stadium, either,” he said.
There is also the possibility that there won’t be a season at all, a scenario the Packers have taken under consideration.
“While the Packers expect to play a full schedule in 2020, ticket holders are reminded of the policy on canceled games,” the team said. “If a game is canceled and cannot be rescheduled, or is played under conditions that prohibit fans from attending (for example, if a public authority restricts gatherings to no more than a small number of people), season ticket holders will receive a refund for the impacted game(s).”
AP Sports Writers Michael Marot in Indianapolis, Joe Kay in Cincinnati and Schuyler Dixon in Dallas and Tim Booth in Seattle contributed to this report.
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