New Orleans Saints

It’ll cost you more to watch the Saints at the Dome. But what’s the money for?

Saints fans cheer on their team in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Fans will pay more to watch a New Orleans game in 2018, but the team says the extra revenue will be used to make going to a game a better experience.
Saints fans cheer on their team in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Fans will pay more to watch a New Orleans game in 2018, but the team says the extra revenue will be used to make going to a game a better experience. File

The Saints are looking to get their revenue back on par with the league average.

After not raising ticket prices last year, the team will increase rates this season to generate income team officials say will be used to improve the fan experience. While no details were given on how the hike will impact specific seats, 75 percent of the stock will see prices jump by 10 percent or less.

The team says the goal is not to maximize the value of the seats, but rather to continue generating income that can be reinvested to make the game day experience better for those who purchased the 585,113 tickets sold last season.

The Saints say the increase will put them around the league average in ticket pricing, which is where they like to reside.

“While we could certainly go out there and have a much larger increase and sit here and count the money, it would be a disservice (to the fans), and it would hurt satisfaction,” Saints vice president of marketing and business development Ben Hales said. “It doesn’t do us any good to raise prices and then drop in fan satisfaction.”

The Saints used analytics to determine how much to raise the price of each seat. Instead of doing entire sections, or even setting a standard jump for the whole stadium, they went through and tried to determine actual value. So, some seats between the 40-yard lines are worth more than ones at the 30, even if they’re in the same section.

They also wanted to be sure not to price anyone out of the stadium by doing a standard hike across the board. Those who purchase tickets for premium seats might see more of an increase, while those in other sections will see smaller jumps.

“For this increase that’s coming up right now, it’s an average of $9 a ticket per game,” Hales said. “We communicate really specifically with each season-ticket holder so they know exactly what their increase is, what the payment process is.”

Hales relayed that owner Tom Benson told them to “do what we should. Not what we could.”

New Orleans last increased the price of tickets in 2016, when 95 percent of the affected seats increased by no more than $5 per game. The last hike before that came in 2014. Hales said it was coincidental that the team is on a two-year cycle of price increases.

The Saints are proud to point out that they ranked first in a survey conducted by the NFL’s league observation program in an audit measuring fan satisfaction during the 2017 season. The rankings are issued by the league following fan surveying and on-site reviews of every home game.

Hales said that some of the money generated through ticket sales goes back into improving in these areas. He pointed out that the team spent years researching traffic patterns that used to cause fans to sit in traffic for hours when leaving games. They’ve since sorted that out and now rank first in the category.

The team is also looking into doing further upgrades of the Superdome and had put together a master plan on what those things might entail, but it now appears the timeline for securing financing has changed. However, the intent is still to continue upgrading the building down the line and bringing in major events, such as the Super Bowl, in the future.

“The state of renovations has no impact on our ability to get another Super Bowl. That’s not something that if you don’t do this – there are clearly things the NFL wants to see. Those are things we can take care of without putting it into a master plan or anything. We have a great building.”

Hales continued: “I’m going to say this very clearly – nobody is looking for a new stadium,” Hales said. “Tom Benson doesn’t want a new stadium. Everybody is happy with this; our fans are happy with the stadium. We know we can go there and make the stadium ready for the next generation of Saints fans, so there’s no discord or any issues out there. It’s just what’s the best way to do it and to go in there and do it right the first time.”