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NFL playoff hosts 49ers, Ravens fail to score financial boost for games

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There are a lot of advantages to hosting an NFL playoff game but money isn’t one of them. In fact, making the playoffs can be a financial drain on a team. 

The San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens are gearing up to host their second straight home playoff game on Sunday, Jan. 28, with Super Bowl dreams on the line. But as the home team’s fans fill the seats, the ticket sales go straight to the league.

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Unlike other professional sports leagues, individual NFL teams do not pocket a dime of their playoff gate receipts up front. The NFL pools all of the money together and evenly distributes it amongst the 32 teams. That means there is no financial difference between the team bringing in all the revenue and the team sitting it out. 

So how do teams pay for the playoff environment? The league gives stipends to home teams to pay for stadium operations and travel money to visiting teams.

Home teams do get to pocket concessions and parking, but that tends to be a drop in the bucket. It’s a $1 million to $2 million drop in the bucket, but still. Playoff teams can actually lose money over the whole ordeal when factoring into the equation coach and player playoff incentives. 

So no, hosting its first home playoff games in 30 years was not a financial winner for the Detroit Lions this season, even with playoff tickets going for as high as $17,000. But teams like the Lions can parlay playoff success into long-term revenue growth

Enjoying a game at Detroit’s Ford Field is one of the cheapest experiences in the league. But after clinching the division for the first time in three decades, fans found out season ticket prices are going up an average of 30% next season. And yes, teams do get to pocket a large portion of regular-season receipts.

In the 2022 season, the San Francisco 49ers scored the highest net ticket revenue in the league at $136 million, according to a Sportico report. The Las Vegas Raiders were second after topping the chart in 2021.

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Simone Del Rosario:

The seats are packed with the home fans. Super Bowl dreams are on the line. 

There are a lot of advantages to hosting a home playoff game. But money isn’t one of them. In fact, making the playoffs can be a financial drain on a team. 

The San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens are gearing up to host their second straight home playoff game. But as their fans fill the seats, the ticket sales go straight to the league.

Unlike other professional sports leagues, individual NFL teams do not pocket a dime of their playoff gate receipts up front. The NFL pools all of the money together and evenly distributes it amongst the 32 teams. Meaning there’s no financial difference between the team bringing in all the revenue and the team sitting it out. 

So how do teams pay for the playoff environment? The league gives stipends to home teams to pay for stadium operations, and travel money to visiting teams.

Home teams do get to pocket concessions and parking, but that tends to be a drop in the bucket. A $1 to $2 million drop in the bucket, but still. Playoff teams can actually lose money over the whole ordeal when you consider having to pay out coach and player playoff incentives. 

So no, hosting its first home playoff games in 30 years was not a financial winner for the Detroit Lions this season, even with playoff tickets going for as high as $17,000. But teams like the Lions can parlay playoff success into long-term revenue growth. 

Enjoying a game at Detroit’s Ford Field is one of the cheapest experiences in the league. But after clinching the division for the first time in three decades, fans found out season ticket prices are going up an average of 30% next season. And yes, teams do get to pocket a portion of regular-season receipts.