The hand-wringing and grandstanding on the Arizona Cardinals attendance issue has reached its peak.
Last week I received an email from a ticketing agency with this:
The game against the Steelers is the hottest game of the season for the Cardinals. With average ticket prices at $289, it is also one of the hottest games we’ve seen since we started tracking the secondary market in 2010.
Cardinals fans seem very excited for this matchup. As of this morning, the get in price (cheapest ticket) is at $200 including fees and listing prices have dropped just 5 percent in the past two weeks.
Then the game happened and it was clear that the prices were driven up by Steelers fans, not Arizona Cardinals fans trying to get into the game.
Something similar will happen this weekend as the Cleveland Browns descend on the desert in the final home game of the 2019 season.
It has created quite the stir online.
You should be ashamed if you sold your @AZCardinals ticket today. Not acceptable!— StateFortyEight (@StateFortyEight) December 8, 2019
Kyler Murray learned a Cardinal lesson.Arizona fans dump their tickets.State Farm Stadium was like Heinz Field.23-17 Steelers it was embarrassing.— Larry Fitzgerald Sr. (@FitzBeatSr) December 9, 2019
Steelers home game??? pic.twitter.com/aUnYnabVzO— Craig Fouhy (@FouhyOnSports) December 8, 2019
Yet, the blame lies at one place and one place only and it is not the fans.
Michael Bidwill and the family have owned the team since its inception into the league.
They moved to Arizona in 1988 and since then have produced winning seasons only six times. They have been to the playoffs only five times.
Winning may be a priority for Bidwill and the Cardinals organization, but it’s never been a consistent occurrence.
Instead, we’ve seen coaching changes, player changes, GM changes and a stadium change.
Yet, winning has been in spurts.
34 wins in three years from 2013-2015 has been followed up by 21 wins in four from 2016-2019.
Those 21 wins have come from three head coaches, four offensive coordinators and three defensive coordinators.
Keeping fans, especially fans in Arizona with a million choices for their entertainment dollars, engaged comes from winning.
Sustained, long-term success.
If you want to shut out opposing fan bases from taking over “The Nest” put out a product that fans want to see.
The fact that a three win Arizona Cardinals team had the fourth most expensive ticket in the NFL behind Patriots-Chiefs ($649.50), Bears-Cowboys ($321.42) and Saints-49ers ($320.46) should tell you something.
Those are six teams fighting for playoff spots.
The Cardinals are a three win team facing a Steelers team with a third-string quarterback under center.
Yet, Steelers fans will pay a premium to watch, because every year they see a winning product.
Why would Arizona Cardinals fans not sell? A fan I know who gave up their season ticket (a single upper level ticket) after the 2018 season paid $450 for his single ticket.
His ticket would have sold for around $235 this weekend. Or paid for 50% of his season ticket cost.
He could sell his Browns ticket and make enough to cover the entire season ticket cost this year (again he did not renew his season ticket after 2018).
The team is a three win team. They have won two home games the last two seasons. Why would fans want to keep going to games when the product is awful?
Why would fans want to continue to invest in this team when they don’t feel like the team is invested in them?
The Cardinals have put a terrible product on the field for the last two seasons. The only way that gets rectified is if fans stop going to the game and the team feels the pressure to fix this.
2-13-1 at home the last two seasons is not worth the investment in time for fans.
If you want to have a true home field advantage, if you want to “protect the nest” then give fans their money’s worth.
Otherwise, this is the tip of the iceberg, just ask the Diamondbacks, Suns and Coyotes.