It’s official, the National Football League announced its intention to play a full 16-game season, along with playoffs and the Super Bowl. However, along with this announcement, the league said they had plans in place to refund ticket prices if games are canceled or played without fans. This announcement removes a serious roadblock to putting the league back on track.
There are some details that fans need to understand, which is why NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent the memo to the press. First, the refund only includes tickets purchased directly from the league. Tickets purchased by outside vendors are not protected, and fans would need to check with those vendors about their refund policy before buying tickets.
Here’s what Goodell said: “All clubs will have in place a policy under which if a game is cancelled or is played under conditions that prohibit fans from attending, anyone purchasing a ticket direct from the club will have the option of either receiving a full refund or applying the amount paid toward a future ticket purchase directly from the club…”
This message is direct and clear. It illustrates an easily understood cause and effect relationship, so fans can adjust their expectations accordingly. Of course, this also created questions. Many fans buy tickets, especially individual game tickets, from outside vendors such as Ticketmaster or Stubhub. In the announcement, Goodell said Ticketmaster had pledged to offer refunds under specific circumstances, however, Stubhub said it would only do so if required by state law.
This clear delineation gives fans important information when they are deciding from whom to purchase tickets for individual games. If they are relatively certain the game will be played, the risk is more or less mitigated. If they live in a state that requires businesses to offer refunds in these circumstances, they are relatively safe. However, if these circumstances do not apply, the company promising refunds may have a clear edge.
From here, though, the direct line of communication is transferred. Goodell promised that fans would hear directly from their local clubs in the coming days, and that these messages would include specific details related to refunds. Now, the onus of clear and accurate communication has been passed on to the individual teams. They have the responsibility to pick up the message thread from here and connect with their fans.
In making this statement, the NFL front office deftly passed on the responsibility related to ticketing questions to the individual teams. They offered clear information as well as a clear communication channel. If the teams follow through, fans can enter the ticket-buying process with confidence. If they do not, confusion could create doubts heading into a season that still might not be played in front of fans.