Presidential administrations have long lived by the idea of releasing bad or potentially negative news on a Friday, when the news cycle is at its lightest and television viewership and newspaper readership is at its lowest. The San Francisco 49ers may have just come up with a new twist on the age-old practice: Announcing plans to raise ticket prices the day after the Major League Baseball Giants hold a parade celebrating the first World Series crown in the city’s history.
The 49ers were scheduled to appear before the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission Thursday, November 4 to request permission to raise some ticket prices for the 2011 season. The 49ers must receive approval to increase ticket prices because they play in city-owned Candlestick Park.
The 49ers’ plan would only increase tickets in the most expensive areas of Candlestick Park. The best midfield seats would cost $179 next year, an increase of $32, while premium seats would go for as much as $350 per seat, up from $295 this year. The lowest-priced seats, which are now between $29 and $74, would remain in place.
Should the proposal go through, the average ticket price at Candlestick Park would rise to $83, up from $77. That would still be well below the 2010 NFL average of $101, a fact 49ers vice president of stadium operations and security Jim Mercurio pointed out in a letter to the Recreation and Park chief Phil Ginsburg.
“Our 2011 average ticket price will be among the most affordable in the entire league,” Mercurio wrote in an excerpt of the letter printed in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Still, the idea of the 49ers raising prices at all might not be a popular one as their playoff drought threatens to reach eight years, which would tie the 49ers with the Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans for the third-longest streak in the NFL.
Such struggles were inconceivable from 1981 through 2002, when the 49ers enjoyed perhaps the greatest run in NFL history by reaching the playoffs 18 times in 22 years and winning five Super Bowls. The 49ers were expected to return to the postseason this year as the consensus favorite to win the NFC West — widely recognized as the worst division in the National Football League — but enter their bye week in last place at 2-6 following a win over the Denver Broncos.
Head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Singletary is thought to be the most endangered coach in the NFL and has already fired offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye and elevated third-string quarterback Troy Smith to starter. The only bright spot for the 49ers is the NFC West has been as mediocre as advertised and that they are just two wins behind the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams. And, with five division games remaining, including three at home, the 49ers will have ample opportunity to become only the second team in NFL history to reach the playoffs after a 1-6 start.
The possible ticket hike comes as the 49ers and the city of Santa Clara are trying to raise $937 million by 2012 in order to build a new stadium in that city that would open in 2014. The 49ers have been trying to build a replacement for Candlestick Park — the oldest original facility in the NFL — since 1997.
Despite their uncertain stadium situation and playoff drought, the 49ers continue to sellout Candlestick. The team played to its 278th straight capacity crowd Sunday, October 17, when the 49ers beat Oakland for their first win of the season.