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The Detroit Lions are raising ticket prices again... and they should

The backlash against raised ticket prices is predictable and ill-informed.

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Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions

I hate how expensive football tickets are. Let me get this out of the way now, because that may not be so clear by the end of this article. I envy the fact that you can often go see a baseball game for $15 a ticket, or go to the brand new Little Caesars Arena and watch the Pistons or Red Wings for $30. And I hate the fact that for many people, watching a football game live is a financial impossibility.

But the market is what it is, and unfortunately, for the fifth consecutive year, the Lions will be raising ticket prices for at least a portion of their season ticket holders. Team president Rod Wood confirmed as much on Wednesday. “There’ll be a slight increase,” Wood told reporters after Matt Patricia’s introductory press conference.

This has set off the typical, hysterical SOL fans. Again, I get the frustration. Football tickets are expensive and the Lions are coming off a disappointing 9-7 season that ended with a meaningless home game against the Packers.

But if your reaction to the news is something like this:

... then you’re just being willfully obtuse.

It’s an easy, cheap-shot from Pro Football Talk and it ignores the huge strides this team has made in the past decade alone. This is a team with the 11th-best record at home since 2014. This is a team that has finished in the top half of the league in Football Outsiders’ DVOA in every single season but one since 2011. And most importantly, THIS IS A TEAM WHOSE TICKET PRICES ARE STILL AMONG THE LEAGUE’S CHEAPEST.

According to (h/t @a_r_oon_att), the Lions entered the 2017 season with the 24th most expensive tickets in the NFL. Only the Browns, Cardinals, Bills, Rams, Colts, Jets, Bengals and Jaguars offered tickets at a lower cost, and all eight of those teams entered the season having finished 2016 with a worse record than Detroit.

The Lions also pumped $100 million worth of renovations (out of their own pocket) to improve the gameday experience for fans—including better wi-fi, bigger videoboards and more food and drink options.

As a result, the Lions set an all-time attendance record in 2017. According to Crain’s Detroit, 513,100 people attended Lions games this year, a huge 5.5 percent increase from 2016—a season in which they made the playoffs, mind you.

So the product on the field is better. The Ford Field experience is better. The interest in the team is at an all-time high. The ticket prices are still relatively low compared to the rest of the league. And the team just hired a head coach that has a 90 percent approval rating. Tell me again why this price hike isn’t justified?

I don’t like that the Lions are raising ticket price. What fan in their right mind would? But you can be mad at it, while also completely realizing how completely justified they are in their actions.