For NFL fans, each Sunday's game is only part of an event that includes a lot more than what happens between the hash marks for three hours. From the commute, to tailgating to taking one's seat, the act of attending a game is an experience shared by every NFL fan from Seattle to Miami. But what separates one venue from another?
That's what SI.com has attempted to discover in rating the experiences each NFL team offers the fans who attend their games. From ticket prices to availability, from the quality of the tailgating to the comfort of the seats, we asked fans to rank and describe every aspect of the game day experience. After painstakingly reviewing each of the 17,000 responses in our online survey, we sorted the information to give you a snapshot of what our readers told us and rated each team in seven categories.
The criteria we used is described below. In the cases of a tie, teams were ranked based on the length of their current sellout streak. Hence, though the top two teams finished with the same score, the fact that No. 1 (Green Bay) has sold out every game since 1960 carries the day over a team (Pittsburgh) with a sellout streak dating to '72.
So dive in, football fans, to the chart above, and see how each team stacks up. And, of course, be sure to weigh in with your thoughts.
The ratings in each category were determined by the following:
The availability of tickets and fan atmosphere were weighed against the average ticket price (determined by Team Marketing Report's 2007 NFL Fan Cost Index, which represents a weighted average of season ticket prices for general seating). The lower the price, the fewer the available seats and the more festive the crowd, the better.
Food & Souvenirs
Does the stadium offer a selection of food that can fuel a fan's passion for the game, or does it specialize in a typical spread of lukewarm hot dogs and expensive beer that can sap a crowd of its vigor as quickly as a loss on the scoreboard?
Is the trip to the stadium smooth or as thick as molasses? Do public buses or rapid transit trains offer more convenient alternatives to driving? And how is the search, and cost, for parking?
The tenor of the game ahead often is set at the hours spent grilling in the parking lot beforehand. What teams offer the chance for fans to bond over fabulous food and heated football talk? Which teams don't?
Is the team's performance worth watching?
A facility's architecture can go a long way toward making a fan feel the team isn't merely a tenant, but a resident of the city. Of course, it can also make one feel like the team plays in a soul-less mall. Those teams that do their best to incorporate the city beyond its walls can charm fans even during a losing season; those that don't better win or risk irrelevancy.
Is the city that lies beyond the stadium's walls worth visiting before or after the game? Is it safe? Or is one best served by beating a hasty retreat to the safety of home?
Mallory Rubin and Greg Beaton contributed to this project.