Following a disastrous 5-11 season in a year that had high expectations, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are raising ticket prices in some sections for the third year in a row. The timing couldn’t be worse, but that’s how this franchise has operated in the past – so why should this year be any different?

To be fair, current season pass members can renew their seats by March 15, and lock in last season’s prices.

However, remember in 2016 when the Bucs were coming off a 6-10 season and yet raised prices by approximately 20 percent? That was sold to fans by pointing out that Tampa Bay had not raised its ticket prices in eight previous years, and even offered discount tickets in some sections during that span.

The Glazers and head coach Dirk Koetter - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Glazers and head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Plus, the Bucs had a new head coach that year in Dirk Koetter, who had just engineered the first top 10 finish by a Tampa Bay offense in franchise history, and optimism was on the rise due to Pro Bowl quarterback Jameis Winston, Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin and star wide receiver Mike Evans.

Last year’s price hike was expected, especially with the team’s 9-7 finish following Koetter’s successful 2016 campaign. Optimism ran high early in 2017 and there was plenty of buzz about the Buccaneers, who were to be featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks in the summer. There were quite a few marquee games on the 2017 schedule that appealed to a lot of the Tampa Bay area transplants from Chicago and New York, as the Bears, Giants and Jets all visited Raymond James Stadium (and lost. Take that, Northerners!).

There were also two primetime home games against Atlanta on Monday Night Football, and a Thursday Night Football game against New England, which was the Bucs’ only sellout. The Falcons game in late December didn’t sell out even though it featured Super Bowl-winning head coach Jon Gruden’s induction into the Bucs Ring of Honor. Of course, the Bucs were officially out of the playoff picture a month earlier, so that big letdown might have had something to do with it.

Despite efforts by the team to prohibit ticket brokers from buying up season ticket holders’ tickets and selling them to enemy fans by cancelling some of those season ticket holders’ accounts to try to ensure more Bucs fans in the lower bowl, that ended up causing an unwanted public relations stir. This franchise has a difficult time getting much right these days on and off the field – outside of its community service work.

As I forecasted back in December, attendance will be down in 2018, as there are only two marquee games on the home slate this year – Philadelphia and Pittsburgh – and that’s only because those teams travel well and already have a lot of transplants in this area. Raising ticket prices won’t help sagging attendance.

Raymond James Stadium - Photo by: Getty Images

Raymond James Stadium – Photo by: Getty Images

Raymond James Stadium has a capacity of 65,890, but only averaged 51,912 fans per game in actual attendance, which was down 2.4 percent from 2016, according to the Tampa Bay Times. This, despite a more attractive home schedule and more buzz entering the 2017 season. The Bucs operated at about 14,000 under capacity last year.

The average tickets distributed for Tampa Bay games in 2017 was 59,952, which was decrease of 1.1 percent, according to the Tampa Bay Times. That means on average about 8,000 Bucs fans per game had tickets, yet decided not to go to the game. That’s a lot of lost concessions and merchandise sales and parking revenue, eh, Glazers?

To try to help combat the bad news about the ticket price increase on Wednesday, the Bucs rolled out some positive, P.R. puff piece videos featuring general manager Jason Licht, who was filmed (uncomfortably) in his office, and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, which was shot at the Pro Bowl.

What, Dirk Koetter wasn’t available?

With the players on vacation, I guess the team turned to the slightly more popular of two unpopular people – Licht and Koetter – with the Bucs’ fan base right now. With a good deal of fans still riled up seeing Gruden get away to Oakland instead of staying in Tampa Bay, it’s a good thing that Koetter wasn’t tabbed to read the cue cards and encourage everyone to fill up Ray-Jay in 2018. Quite a few fans wanted a head coaching change, and when it didn’t happen it didn’t exactly help Koetter’s popularity.

The video came across as a bit contrived and desperate, but that’s not Licht’s fault. He admitted that the 2017 season was a disappointment and that nobody wanted to go through that again, which was a truthful, nice touch.

I just hope he told the film crew that he was only going to do one take so that he could get back to much more important things – you know, like finding the right free agents and players in the draft that can help this woebegone franchise find its way back to the playoffs after being mired in futility for nearly a decade.

I’ve always wondered why businesses or organizations like the Bucs don’t engage in cold, hard reality in commercials that adapt to the real world we live in today. I think existing customers and potential customers want to be leveled with.

To fight sagging enlistment numbers, I’d love to see the Armed Forces have commercials with this type of message instead of the glossy prose like “The few. The proud. The Marines.” That was so last decade ago.

“Hey Millennials, if you’re really into first-person shooter games like Call of Duty and Rainbow Six Siege, why don’t you get your butts off the couch, put down the Xbox controller, get in some real Armed Forces gear and enlist so you can blow real stuff up? Quit trying to be the most bad ass shooter on the Internet, and become an actual sniper to help defend this country.”

So instead of Licht saying flowery stuff like “trust me, there are some huge hearts in that locker room,” why not engage in a similar tone with the brutal truth?

What if the video had this message from Licht in to to Bucs season ticket holders:

“Hi, I’m Jason Licht of your Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You’re probably mad at me for not drafting enough defensive linemen over the years, but damnit, I’m going to this year! You have my word! And I’m going to sign some better players in free agency this year – thanks to you and the money we get from your season ticket sales.

Listen, Bucs fans, we’re all in this together. We need you to buy season tickets or renew them. We’re going to try to re-sign free agent Brent Grimes, but he’s kind of got us over a barrel because we lack talent and experience at the cornerback position. So it’s going to be expensive. We’ll need some season ticket revenue to get him back on board the Bucs’ ship this year.

Revenue from your season tickets is also going to help me give Mike Evans a big contract extension this year, as well as one for Cam Brate, who is one of your favorites. That’s money well spent, right?

If Jameis Winston continues to progress, he’ll be in line for a sizeable contract extension next year. Pro Bowler Kwon Alexander, too. You guys like Kwon, right? I mean who doesn’t like Kwon?

And do you remember the cool, big video boards we just installed at Ray-Jay and the awesome new team store at the stadium? Your season ticket revenue helped to fund those, too, and we’ve got more stadium enhancements on the way. And I’ll invite you to watch some training camp practices at our new indoor practice facility this summer – complete with air conditioning! See? Your season ticket dollars are hard at work.

I also want to tell you what your season ticket money is not going towards in 2017. We’re not going to pay the salaries of Doug Martin, Chris Baker and Robert Ayers because we’re going to cut those disappointing underachievers. That’s some good news, right?

Hey, listen – maybe you’ve been a Bucs Season Pass holder for the past nine years, so why give them up now? Odds are we’re due to make the playoffs any year now, and you’ll want to have your butts in the stands at Ray-Jay for that magical season, which we hope will be soon … like in 2018. Hey, it worked for Jacksonville, right?

The longest playoff drought in Tampa Bay was 13 years and I’m actually going to guarantee the Bucs will be in the playoffs this season or Dirk and I will be fired. You have my word on that … because the Glazers said so.

All of our home games will likely be on Sundays at 1:00 p.m. so there will be plenty of time for you to get home and get to bed early Sunday night for work on Monday. No more pesky night games!

We’re playing the winless Browns at home next year, too, so you know you will at least see one victory – unlike the 2014 season when there wasn’t a single home win. But we’re past that! Four of our five wins last year came at Ray-Jay. We saved our best for you – our Bucs Season Pass members!

Jaguars VP Tom Coughlin - Photo by: Getty Images

Jaguars VP Tom Coughlin – Photo by: Getty Images

Lord knows our pass rush needs your crowd noise to help us do a better job of getting off the field on third down. If you don’t renew your season tickets, I can pretty much assure you that our sack total won’t increase in 2018 with less fans in the stands. Like I said, we’re all in this together.

So come watch Jameis and Kwon beat the Browns – and some other teams next year. And remember, I’m going to draft defensive linemen this year and buy better free agents with your season ticket revenue. I promise!

I know the timing of this price increase sucks, but remember that we’re due for a sudden, expected playoff season that you don’t want to miss. Remember the Jaguars. Go Bucs!”

Okay, enough satire.

If the Glazers are going to increase the ticket price this year, they can at least take a page out of the Atlanta Falcons’ playbook and reduce the price of concessions. A study in the New York Times showed how the Falcons turned more of a profit with lower concession prices last year.

And I’m all in favor of having a full cash bar installed in the press box for those of us in the media that cover the team. That’s long overdue, and given what us beat writers have had to cope with over the last decade, that could become quite a new profit center for the Bucs.

Seriously, continued losing and price hikes aren’t a good mix, but the guess here is that these price increases were likely planned years ago to help pay for the stadium upgrades that have been completed or are still in the works. The Bucs banked on being winners by now and the entire organization expected the team to be in the playoffs last year. Had that happened, the price hikes could have been justified.

As the team notes, season pass members will save 32 percent over single-game buyers that purchase tickets for all the home games, so there’s that. If the apathy hasn’t set in yet and you want to bet that 2018 could be “the year” for the Buccaneers, or you just want to see Jameis and Kwon, and help pay for Mike and Cam’s contract extension, you can click here to become a Bucs Season Pass holder or renew your Season Pass.

Hey, remember the Jaguars.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 27th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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Garv
Garv
4 years ago

Rant on! Although I pay by the month and am not affected this season I’m sure that won’t be the case next year. And this NONSENSE of fans having to pay more for “marquee” games against the eagles and steelers? Damn it! All this is going to mean is many season ticket holders refusing to re-up and more visiting fans buying individual game tickets in the lower bowl! For WHAT? More money for billionaires at the expense of their most loyal fans. Bad timing, bad move, ARROGANT slap in the face move that will only make the home field experience… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Garv
4 years ago

Garv: This doesn’t affect season ticket holders who already renewed.

Garv
Garv
Reply to  scubog
4 years ago

I know but was referring to those who haven’t yet. When you pay every month you don’t hear much from the Bucs. They figure they’ve got you anyway and they’re right! LOL

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Garv
4 years ago

You’re right about that. I must say, my Club Seat girl is great.

Horse
Horse
4 years ago

You said it all, even though the economy has much to do with it; these owners aren’t willing to drop profit percentage either.

CrustyClam
CrustyClam
4 years ago

Eff them season tickets and eff the Glazers til they get their poop in a scoop.

Dman
Dman
4 years ago

These guys have got to be joking!?!?! How out of touch are they???? In the glory days we had a Super Bowl contending team, sell-outs every week and a waiting list a mile long. No more, on each count. Malcom Glazer knew business, knew how to win, knew what was important to the fans. His sons aren’t even shadows of their dad.

surferdudes
4 years ago

Scott I’ve been reading your stuff for a long time. That was a classic!

JP
JP
4 years ago

Good stuff you’re spot on. I mean that big as hell screen that the ship obstructs your view of on one end and a remodel for the high dollar pass holders on the west club are the UPGRADES? The concessions may be the worst I have ever had to deal with Little Ceaser’s pizza (personal pan) $8 and fries & chicken fingers 12.99 (sucks) $10 to $12 beers. THE STADIUM ISN”T THAT WORLD CLASS VENUE they make it out to be. I can’t believe Atlanta can have $4 beers and $2 hotdogs. The Rays and The Lightings concessions are far… Read more »

JustaBuc
JustaBuc
4 years ago

Looks like I’m in the minority in here, but I found that little blurb about the Armed Forces to be REALLLYYYY poor taste. Like, what the heck did you drink to think that made for a good joke?

Pete Wood
Pete Wood
4 years ago

I do not live in Florida. The last Bucs game I saw was when they lost to Giants in 1991.
How empty were the stands? So empty that the Tribune sports reporter saw me and my friend from the field and walked up twenty rows to ask us why we were at the game.

So, go ahead, Glazers, raise them prices! Bring the glory days of attendance before Dungy.

Charlie
Charlie
4 years ago

Glazers need to sell the team. They can’t build a championship franchise even if it was handed to them…oh wait Manchester United already was and they haven’t even made it the quarters of the Euro in 10 years, so they suck at both.

Buc-Up
Buc-Up
4 years ago

It would be interesting to find out how Denver does with their concessions in a state where pot is legal. I would imagine having a bunch of stoned fans with “the munchies” bodes well for concession sales!

Morgan
Morgan
4 years ago

No blackouts anymore make the decision not to renew an easy one. Thanks Glazer Boys!

maarnold1775
maarnold1775
4 years ago

I’ve been saying all this for years. Where have you all been? This team is a train wreak waiting to happen or has happened, either way. As soon as the kids took over, it’s been a down hill fall since. Oh sure, a few glimmers of hope, but anyone with half a brain could tell it wasn’t sustainable. Well, here we are and still falling.