Millions of words have been spilled and spoken about the National Football League lockout since it began March 11 , but one that almost certainly hasn’t been used is “kismet.” Yet as Philadelphians and other football fans woke up this morning, Tuesday, July 26, to a moderately warm day perfect for an early season NFL game at Lincoln Financial Field, it felt as if the weather gods were making a sly acknowledgement that football is finally back.
“The root of this city is the Philadelphia Eagles,” Jake Conaway, the general manager of Wanamaker Ticket Office in Philadelphia, told TicketNews. “And since the announcement [that the lockout was officially over], you’ve just kind of felt the buzz in the city. It’s not really hot today, it’s kind of cool, it feels like a potential football day.”
There are plenty of potential football days to come after the 137-day lockout ended Monday, July 25 with the players unanimously approving the deal hammered out by owners and players over the preceding several weeks. Owners had approved the deal last Thursday, July 21; the new collective bargaining agreement is for 10 years with no opt-out clause for either side, meaning the NFL and its fans are free of labor worries through the 2020 season.
Buoyed by the news, fans wasted little time today, July 26, in heading to the secondary market and to the teams themselves in search of tickets for this season. The Associated Press reported the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans all saw a dramatic increase in ticket sales as a deal neared late last week.
Interest is especially high in Philadelphia, where fans believe this is finally the year the Eagles will win their first NFL title since 1960.”We’ve had a surplus of orders come in today for the Eagles,” Conaway said. “If [the lockout] wouldn’t have happened this year, we’d usually sell a very, very large amount of tickets early on. We usually start ramping up come April, May, June and July — a lot of Eagles orders come in. But because of the lockout, people were kind of leery about purchasing tickets because they didn’t know if the season would go forward.”
In Green Bay, home of the reigning Super Bowl champion Packers, the market is active but not as active as it could be because the Packers haven’t distributed their season tickets yet.
Josh Anderson of Ticket King in Wisconsin said sales and interest in the Packers’ season opener at Lambeau Field Thursday, September 8 against the New Orleans Saints — the team that preceded the Packers as Super Bowl champs — is “off the charts right now” but that the real boost in business is still to come.
“It’s definitely very busy with sales, but we’re not as busy as we thought we would be because nobody has their Packers tickets yet,” Anderson said.
Both Conaway and Anderson said they detected no lingering resentment among fans over the lockout. Of course, it certainly helps that while football is back after the longest work stoppage in league history, it never actually left in the first place.
The only game that will be missed due to the lockout is the Hall of Fame Game, the annual kickoff to the exhibition schedule that was supposed to pit the St. Louis Rams and the Chicago Bears in Canton, OH on Sunday, August 7. While all off-season training activities were cancelled, which no doubt thrilled players, teams will be able to hold full training camps.
In the end, the lockout was probably a boon for the NFL, which relies on soap opera-esque storylines to drive interest during the season. The league managed to create suspense about the upcoming season without actually sacrificing a single regular season game.
“I think everyone’s happy about it — I don’t think anybody cares now that it’s done,” Anderson said. “They’re Super Bowl champs, everybody wants football. If they started missing preseason games, it would have been a different story.”
“I did not anticipate people being skeptical about buying Eagles tickets at this point — I knew once they announced [a deal] it would be a very, very exciting day,” Conaway said. “We’re all fans in here as well, obviously we’re excited about moving inventory to help the fans get to the game. I think everybody’s [feeling this is] a win-win.”