At the very least, the Jets' fee should help waiting list members move up faster
If you are on the Jets season ticket waiting list you received a nice letter from Jets President Jay Cross this week explaining that for you to keep your privilege of being on the list it will now cost you $50.00 a year.
Local radio talk shows and internet messageboards (such as ours at Jets Insider.com) have been flooded with angry fans that are seething over the fee. The debate centers around whether this is just another way to bleed the fans on the list (who are already frustrated because they have no tickets) or if it actually benefits those same fans by helping them get their tickets faster. The answer is probably somewhere in the middle.
At first glance it seems like a quick way for the Jets to raise some easy money. With 20,000 plus on the waiting list, that's a cool million right in Woody's pocket. The Jets have tried to spin it by saying the members who pay the fee get certain benefits that justify the fee. Cross was also quoted yesterday saying that he wants to make all waiting list members "feel like part of the Jets family". The percs include a yearbook, two issues of the Jets Playbook magazine, access to StubHub which allows you to buy tickets at face value from season ticket holders and a 25% discount coupon to buy Jets gear on NY Jets.com.
I can't imagine any fan on the list getting excited about these "benefits". The yearbook is really the only thing you are getting for your $50.00. The playbook is given out for free at every game, the StubHub was offered to waiting list people last season for free and frankly never has any tickets to good games available and the 25% discount is for items that will just stuff the Jets pockets even more.
With this said, you probably think I am against the fee. Well, the answer is no. I think it's a great idea in principle.
When you have a waiting list the size that the Jets do, and your average waiting time for tickets by new applicant is 15 years, this is a good way to see who the serious members of the list are. The $50.00 fee if anything, will weed out all the dead wood. If you are number 12,000 today there is a good chance you could be number 7000 next year instead of number 10,500 thanks to this fee. If you really want your tickets before your first social security check, this fee will help that happen.
The problem I have is the supposed "value" the Jets brass is trying to say they are offering the fans. If the Jets were really trying to offer the fans value, they would apply the fee they are charging (or at least a portion of it) to the price of the tickets when your number comes up. The Patriots charge a fee to wait on their list (only a one time fee) but the entire amount is credited to your first invoice once you get your tickets. That's value. Giving you a discount on merchandise that is already overpriced or giving access to services that used to be free is not value.
The real merits of this fee will not be known until you find out how many spots you've moved up next year. A close friend of mine who's waiting list number is still in the five figure range told me he would gladly pay a few hundred dollars to move his waiting time from ten years to lets say four or five.
The bottom line is that anything that will make the fan's time on this list move faster is good thing. Other than making the wait shorter, this fee really has few other benefits. The Jets shouldn't try to sugarcoat it.
Mr. Cross, if you want to give "value" back to the fans, give it in cold hard cash. That's the way my real "family" would do it.