Just when Chicago Bears season-ticket holders might have gotten over the fact that their team had another home losing record, their third in a row, a letter from the team arrived to them in the mail this week.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bears informed their season-ticket holders that there would be “price adjustments” for “all sections of Soldier Field” in the 2017 season. It will be the first time some tickets will go up since 2014.
“It was a challenging and disappointing season. One we will not repeat,” Bears president/CEO Ted Phillips wrote. “We shared in your frustration and do not take your passion and loyalty for granted. We are humbled by your dedication to the Bears and know we must be better.”
Good news first: Some tickets actually will decrease. And now the bad: Most will go up, although the adjustments reportedly range from 1 to 4 percent. The reality is that even for the most choice seats, those that average around $4,000 per season ticket ($400 per game), even a 4-percent increase would only result in an increase of a couple hundred dollars max. The average club seat will go up about 2 percent on average.
But the Bears have continued to fail when it comes to putting out a winning product. Their 3-13 mark last season was the franchise’s worst since 1978, when the NFL expanded its schedule to 16 games. We understand the economic realities, and going three seasons without a ticket-price increase would be rare in the NFL. Heck, the Browns just announced they’re dropping prices on 40 percent of their season tickets.
That’s why the optics of this announcement, nominal as the increase really is, are not great. This is not a one-season thing … it’s a sustained pattern in Chicago now.
From the 2013 finale through this past season, the Bears have gone an astonishingly bad 6-19 at Soldier Field. Over that same time period, only two teams — the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns — have had a worse road (yes, we said road) record than the Bears’ home mark. And yes, the Bears have the worst home record of any team over the past three seasons.
Further, the Bears have not had a record better than 5-3 at home since 2008. Their home records the past eight seasons: 3-5, 1-7, 2-6, 5-3, 5-3, 5-3, 5-3, 5-3. That’s a total mark of 32-34, and only seven teams have been worse at home since then.
The Bears will continue with their variable-pricing rates broken up into three tiers, which means that some games will be more expensive than others. For instance, when the Bears play the Browns and San Francisco 49ers, you can expect those to be the lower tier. Division games typically generate a bit more buzz, and the Bears will face two — Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers — that made the postseason. The rest of the slate looks tricky, too: They face the NFC-champion Atlanta Falcons, the 2015 NFC-champion Carolina Panthers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who made it to the AFC title game this season and whose fans travel as well as any do.
“We are committed to building a winning team that can sustain success,” Phillips wrote. “The process can test our patience, but there are many reasons to be optimistic for the future.”
Bears fans are extremely loyal and will sell out games — even if the stands are not full — for years to come. But their patience certainly has to be wearing thin.
But is that future in 2017? With a possible lame-duck head coach in John Fox and no clear solution yet at quarterback, fans might be asked to pay extra for yet another season of losing at home.
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