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Is NFL Really Ahead Of Last Year's Pace For Season-Ticket Sales?

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The NFL lockout continues.
The NFL lockout continues.

Daniel Kaplan from the Sports Business Journal reports that owners were briefed on the league's ticket sales results last week at their spring meeting in Indianapolis, and the news appeared to be good:

The NFL is ahead of the pace on season-ticket sales compared with this point last year, a counter-intuitive trend given the uncertainty of the league’s 2011 season with a lockout that has now stretched into its 12th week. [...] The gains were ascribed in part to the earlier sales start many teams used this year in anticipation of a potential lockout, which began March 12.

From reports earlier in the season, we know that many teams did indeed start selling the tickets sooner, and installed an earlier cutoff date for season-ticket holders to renew their tickets, so that report is not implausible. At the same time, we know that all but a handful of NFL teams have instituted paycuts and mandatory furloughs, so this news is surprising, especially since Roger Goodell recently pointed out that business across the NFL is down, and that the league is absolutely seeing the impact of the lockout on season-ticket sales.

These days you can't take anything at face value. With both sides looking for any type of "leverage" leading up to the next round of CBA negotiations, this might very well be a PR ploy by the owners to project an image of financial strength where there may in fact be none. Who really knows?

In situations like these, I side with Fox Mulder: "Trust No One".