There are a number of reasons why NFL games are less popular with tourists than baseball and basketball games. There are considerably fewer contests, yes, but the prohibitively high cost of tickets and the agony associated with getting into and out of crowded stadiums are what really keep travelers at bay. The one time of year when taking in a personal road game makes sense is during that narrow window in early December when major franchises fall out of playoff contention. Attending losing teams’ home games is a cheap and easy way to have a great cultural experience: Only the die-hard fans stick around, tickets are cheap, and there is no stigma attached to leaving early.
The complete collapse of the New York Football Giants and Washington Redskins, popular teams in destination cities, makes this a particularly promising year to capitalize on failure. The price of Giants tickets, which tanked after the team got off to a dismal start then climbed until the team’s chances were squelched by a loss to the Cowboys, have hit rock bottom. Seats in the upper sections of MetLife Stadium are available for as little as $50 and midfield seats are going for less than $200 – and that’s against the Seattle Seahawks, possibly the most entertaining team in football. Want to take in a Redskins game? Tickets to this week’s contest with the also-out-of-contention Atlanta Falcons are a steal. Seats close to the field are going for $60. If you’re willing to wait, those prices are likely to drop to under $20.
Because the games don’t matter particularly to home fans, they tend to turn into big cookouts. There is plenty of bemoaning, but visiting with another town’s disappointed fans is a great way to see a side of any city’s personality you’re unlikely to encounter in an art museum. Buy someone a beer and you’ll get all the local color you need. And, at $18, the price of a ticket to a St. Louis Ram’s home game is only $8 more expensive than a trip to the top of the city’s famous arch. If the game gets ugly early, you can always leave at halftime and do both.