The Jets and Their Fans Aren't Seeing Eye to Eye These Days

New stadium has created one problem after another

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    The one thing that Jets fans can't complain about this year is their team's commitment to trying to get better. The Jets have made bold trades to acquire talented players, taken risky fliers on veterans who could round off their rough edges and generally conducted themselves like a team gunning for the top spot.

    Just about everything else they're complaining about, however. The team has a vast inventory of unsold personal seat licenses to sell before the start of the season, leading to threats of television blackouts if they remain on the market. This follows an offseason of grumbling about the cost of those PSLs, which led many fans to abandon their longtime seats to move to the PSL-free upper deck.

    The cost of those PSLs has led to a class system akin to something from the medieval era. The team's draft party was plush for the elite and bare bones for the plebes and the team's parking lots will be pre-assigned based on how much you're spending for your seats. That affects tailgating, always a sore spot, and reinforces the notion of social castes based on money. The Jets are happy to take money for the cheap seats, but they'll never let you forget that you aren't one of the chosen people.

    These aren't end of the world types of issues. People who spend more should rightfully get more for their money, be it a nicer draft party, a better parking spot or whatever other bells and whistles the Jets have come up with to convince people to buy football tickets for what it costs to send a kid to college. Tailgating groups made up of a mix of ticket holders can find ways to work around the regulations to keep their group together and, despite the threats, the Jets aren't likely to wind up being blacked out.

    Woody Johnson says the team won't sell tickets to games on an individual basis, but that sounds like the Yankees claims that the prices of their premium seats wouldn't be reduced. They wound up being cut, of course. It's easy to say that when you're still trying to sell high, it's harder to go through with when push comes to shove.

    All of this anger will pass, either because time makes what seems obscene into the routine or because the Jets live up to their expectations this season and people decide they don't mind paying a lot to watch a good team. The bigger issue is that the Jets are going out of their way to change the way that their fans consume their product and doing it in a way that is neither necessary nor particularly respectful to the people that have supported them through the years. That's a bad business model, even if the team can quite truthfully point to all of the things they've done to create a better product for their customers.  

    The lasting lesson in all of this is pretty much the same lesson offered by the collapse of the housing market across the country. Don't buy things or build things that you can't afford without exorbitant financial help from other parties. That goes for the Maras and Tisches as well, even if they've handled this situation a bit better than the Jets. Both teams have tried to cast the fans as partners in this stadium and in the teams, but unless they plan to actually send out checks at the end of every season the truth is they simply passed the buck to others so that they could make more of them in the future.

    All good things to know now and, hopefully, avoid when you decide this state of the art stadium needs to be replaced in 20 years or so.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.