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New Meadowlands Stadium: Are Empty Seats A Problem?

Neither the New York Giants or New York Jets sold out their home openers in New Meadowlands Stadium over the weekend.

The New York Times has taken a fascinating look at those empty seats, and how they might not really be all that important to professional franchises

Even though neither team filled up the stadium, they were able to have the games broadcast locally because of N.F.L. rules that exempt club seats from blackout calculations.

The appearance of the empty seats in a new billion-dollar sports palace echoed what occurred in 2009, when steep prices were imposed for the best box seats at the new Yankee Stadium, a strategy that did not work in the midst of a deep recession.

Some of those seats, costing as much as $2,500 a game, went unsold, and the bald patches were obvious on television cameras, especially in the view looking in from center field. Even now, a year later, some of those seats near home plate and the dugouts remain unsold. And now the Giants and the Jets are enduring the same phenomenon.

"You wonder if these teams overestimated the New York market," said Jon Greenberg, the executive editor of Team Marketing Report, an industry newsletter. "They’ve just treated their fans like A.T.M.s because there’s so much wealth concentrated in that area."

The high prices of the top tickets at Yankee Stadium and the introduction of personal seat licenses at New Meadowlands have raised the possibility that sellouts will not be that easy to achieve in either place. The Yankees sold out 58 times at their old and larger stadium in 2008, but only seven times in the smaller ballpark last season and just 12 times so far this year.

Those empty seats are mostly among the 10,000 club seats the teams are selling at NMS. Between PSLs and the huge boost in revenue both teams are getting from the club seats that have sold I'm not really sure how much it bothers ownership to see an empty block of seats.

The new sports economy does not seem to be about the number of seats you sell, rather selling whatever you can to the people who have the most money to spend.

The average fan just doesn't matter that much to teams anymore. Sad, but true.