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Updated on Oct. 4 with Josh Freeman's current status and a revised beer price for the Carolina Panthers
PORTLAND, Ore. (
TheStreet) -- As an unwritten rule, National Football league teams don't generally do their fans any favors.
As we've mentioned, the NFL has no problem taking billions in tax dollars for its play palaces, hoarding all the money from deals to broadcast games from those gilded facilities, blacking out those broadcasts in home markets when fans don't give them a full stadium to show to the rest of of the country, hiding behind tax-exempt status to avoid financial responsibility for any of it and using an antitrust agreement to justify all of the above.
That being the case, it pays to throw the disgruntled local fan base a concession every so often. The Jacksonville Jaguars haven't blacked out a game on local television in three years, but the experience left the small-market team's front office so chastened that it's giving away
free beer with tickets this year just to avoid the possibility.
It's one of the few ways the league has tried to dislodge fans from their warm lairs filled with high-definition screens, cheap and plentiful snacks and beverages and
DirecTV's(DTV)NFL Sunday Ticket supplementing games on every broadcast network and
ESPN(DIS). Otherwise, NFL owners have been content to boost average ticket prices 3.1% to more than $81, according to
Team Marketing Report. That's the first time the NFL's average ticket price has drifted over the $80 mark, making it nearly triple the cost of the average Major League Baseball ticket.
That's before you factor in the cost of taking a family of four to the game and, you know, introducing a future generation of potential customers to a live-game experience. The average cost to take a family of four to a game, park, have a beer, hot dog and soda and go home with a program and a cap also jumped 3.7%, to nearly $460.
But the kids don't seem to be the NFL's main targets. If you're over 21, the NFL and its official beer sponsors at
Anheuser-Busch InBev(BUD) want you to come to the game more than ever. After beer prices jumped from an average of 42 cents an ounce in 2011 to 43 cents an ounce last year, they actually sank to roughly 41 cents an ounce this year.
That's still $7 for little more than a pint, but it's one of the few concessions the league is making at its concessions stands for fans feeling otherwise squeezed by ticket prices. While there are still plenty of teams that
charge well above that average beer price, there are still some relative deals to be found in the depths of taxpayer-funded NFL stadiums.
In Ohio, fans of the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals still enjoy $5, 12-ounce beers for 42 cents an ounce, although that's costly compared with the 35 cents per ounce paid by folks watching the Miami Dolphins (20 ounces for $7) and New Orleans Saints (24 ounces for $8.50). The Carolina Panthers have easily the lowest per-ounce price in the league at 27 cents per ounce (22 ounces for $6), but the biggest surprise may be in New England. Despite having the league's highest average ticket price at $118 and making the AFC Conference Championship last year, the 38 cents per ounce the team charges for beer ($7.50 for 20 ounces) is the lowest of any team that made the playoffs last year.
With help from
Team Marketing Reports
Fan Cost Index, we found the 10 lowest beer prices in the league and the teams that aren't soaking their beer-loving fans: