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No Life in MetLife: A 1.8 Billion Dollar Disaster

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  •  November 15, 2016
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For those who read my scathing article yesterday Jets Season Tickets: A Thing of the Past, you saw the reasons that owning Jets season tickets no longer makes financial sense. The truth is, buying a PSL never made financial sense. It didn’t matter. Jets fans were willing to splurge and put their money where their mouths were. We trusted that the new “home” that was being built was going to be a state-of-the-art facility that was going to separate us from the rest of the NFL and elevate the game day experience. This article will illustrate my reasons why MetLife Stadium may be the worst current stadium in the NFL.

(Full disclosure: My family currently owns 9 season tickets. Five in the Chase Club section 212 and four in the first couple rows of section 340.)

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Parking Lots/Tailgating:

As most Jets fans will tell you, the tailgate is the single best part of the game day experience. Everybody thinks that their tailgate is the best one in the lot. I am fortunate enough to be a part of the L7 Tailgate and many of the people I have met over there are now friends for life. Sounds great, right? Kinda.

The MetLife Stadium parking lot is broken down in to a color system. The people who pay the highest PSL’s get the best parking in the green lots. Let’s say somebody with club seats decides to throw a tailgate in his lot and invite friends or family who pay a bit less and have a yellow parking pass. This forces their guests to walk across the entire lot. Want to pack a cooler and bring it with you to the tailgate? Have fun walking with it for a half hour between cars and over curbs.
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In the old stadium, there was a beautiful system. Parking lots were general admission. If you arrived early, you parked wherever you wanted. This made it easy for families and friends to pick a location and meet up there. If you showed up too late to get in to that lot, it was your fault. I have no problem with having a lot that is reserved for PSL holders that don’t want to show up at 8am to tailgate. But why not make one reserved lot for them and make the rest general admission?

The Long And Winding Road

The tailgate is over and it is time to pack up and head in to the stadium. I am uniquely qualified to discuss this as somebody who owns tickets in both the Chase Club AND the upper deck – two COMPLETELY different experiences.

On days that I sit in the Chase Club, I walk in through a private entrance. Take a couple escalators to my seats and I am there within a few minutes. Consider this one of the few rewards of sending the Jets $15,000 for PSL’s and $300 for my ticket. But what about the games that I sit with my brother and nephews in the 300 level?

In the old stadium, there were sets of escalators that went to the lower level, the mezzanine and the upper deck in each corner of the stadium. There were also spirals in each corner right next to the escalators if you wanted to walk up. It was the simplest solution and took MAYBE 2-3 minutes to get from the gates to your section no matter where your seats were located within Giants Stadium. MetLife sends you through a mind-boggling maze. It takes a minimum of 20 minutes to get to my seats in the upper deck. Escalator… and around. Escalator… and around. Log jams of people tripping over each other. What was wrong with the old system? Who came up with this new entrance strategy? Who approved it?

It is as if you are being punished for having the nerve to sit upstairs. My brother calls the upper deck at MetLife the “bowels of the Titanic”. I couldn’t agree more. Sure, there are no PSL’s up there (for Jets fans) but in life, you truly get what you pay for.

Concessions

I have traveled throughout the NFL over the past 3 years visiting Arizona, Miami, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Dallas, London, Cleveland & Baltimore. The MetLife Stadium concessions are the worst and most overpriced that I have encountered.

The lines for concessions at MetLife are unbearable. The product is subpar. The staff is frequently rude and incompetent. There is nothing worse than standing on line to be charged $14 for a watered down soda and a wet soggy cold pretzel.

Other stadiums treat their customers fairly. For example, a $7 souvenir cup of soda at MetLife gets you one soda. When you go to other stadiums like Miami and Arizona, for $6 they give you free refills on these cups. So when it is hot outside at the opener and you want a second coke, guess what… you just spent $14 on soda (the same price that will get you a 300 level ticket on StubHub to the upcoming Monday Night game against the Colts).

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Game Day Atmosphere

Here is where MetLife really falls short. Nothing that is done inside of that stadium is done for the fans. Literally everything – even introducing service members to the crowd – is a paid advertisement. Your ears never get a break from the non-stop peddling of products and services.

The hardcore Jets fan was priced out of this stadium or sent to the upper deck where their voices can barely be heard. Fireman Ed has been replaced by two guys who literally have no chance to get the crowd fired up because the average fan in the lower level will scream “down in front” at you if you have the nerve to stand up. Crowd noise? Maybe on third down but it is never sustained over the course of an entire game.

Speaking of Fireman Ed… he was chased away and assaulted by the same Jets “fans” who have infected this building since the day it opened.  People with no clue or respect for the history of the franchise. People who care more about taking selfies and watching their fantasy football scores than helping to create a true home field advantage. There are still a TON of great fans at MetLife but not enough in a building that size to make any real difference.

The ridiculous drum line has been replaced by a faulty siren that is just flat out embarrassing. The crowd can always be counted on to get crazy… but only when a free t-shirt is thrown in to the stands. Halftime entertainment is basically nonexistent. What ever happened to fun things like frisbee dogs? The grey dreary seats give the building a depressing lifeless feel. Want a bright spot? The Flight Crew gets better every year. So at least we have that.

Game Over. Time to Leave.

The game just ended and you have been at MetLife since 8am. It is now 4pm – you are tired and you just want to get in to your car and go home. Sit tight, Jets fans. It’s gonna be a while, unless you ponied up the big money for club seats!

Leaving from the Chase Club: Private exit out of the stadium. In your cars within 5 minutes. Quick exit out of the green lots on to the highway. See you next Sunday.

Leaving from the upper deck: You might as well fight the crowds and take the steps. Sure, it is about 20 flights down but at least you don’t have to endure the endless number of ramps – or even worse – the escalators. Both of those options will take you a minimum of 20-30 minutes just to get out of the stadium. Down.. and around. Down.. and around.

Did you park in the yellow lots? Might as well set your grills back up and do a post game tailgate for an hour because that is exactly how long it will take before you even have the option of leaving. The exit strategy for those lots is pure insanity. Whoever came up with those traffic patterns needs to be immediately fired. They funnel every car headed towards the horse stables in to 2 lanes on a road that is probably a mile long with a traffic light at the end. If you head towards Route 3 there is a similar road that winds around and comes to an end, Then you have to make a left turn and sit in more traffic before every car merges in to one lane that dumps you out on to Route 3.

The traffic has gotten infinitely worse over time. Clueless people in orange coats stand there waving their arms pretending to be directing traffic. Furious fans cut each other off in hopes of getting out of the lot 5 seconds sooner. And the reward for getting out of the lot is just more traffic. It took me an hour and a half to get home to Hackensack this Sunday after leaving a half empty stadium – a trip that should take 10 minutes.

Can These Issues Be Fixed?

Good question. I don’t doubt that the Jets are aware of each and every one of these problems. The question is, what is being done to address them? This stadium is only six years old. There is no new stadium coming anytime soon so we are all going to have to make the best out of a bad situation.

The Jets are going to have to make some changes if they want to begin to win fans back. Commercials to try and convince fans to buy season tickets are constantly being aired on television and radio. It is laughable. Save your advertising money and use it to start addressing the real issues that are keeping fans home on Sundays. You created this problem. There used to be a waiting list tens of thousands of people long to buy your tickets. Now, I can’t even find friends or family who will take a Jets ticket from me for free. That is the reality of a season ticket holder. Focus on keeping the ones you currently have before you worry about trying to squeeze blood from a stone.

 

 

 

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