INDIANAPOLIS —Everybody loves a winner. Then the bill arrives.
The Broncos mailed out notices Thursday informing 56 percent of their season-ticket holders that it will cost more for their seats in 2014. Officially, there will be higher prices attached to 36,065 seats in the general bowl seating area, while 28,436 seats were not increased.
The overall price increase is 6.35 percent, from an average cost of $84.51 per ticket in 2013 to $89.91 for the upcoming season.
"We understand there is a perception that tickets to sporting events are expensive, and we continue to look to add value for our fans while keeping prices competitive around the league," said Mac Freeman, who heads the Broncos' business department. "The reality is the Broncos' average ticket price in 2013 was 14th in the (32-team) NFL, so we're really in the middle of the pack."
At least 10 teams in the NFL have announced a ticket hike this year. It's the third consecutive year the Broncos have raised ticket prices, following a four-year run (2008-11) when there was no increase.
The four-year flat rate on tickets occurred during the Broncos' postseason drought. In the three years the Broncos have raised ticket prices, they have won three consecutive AFC West titles.
Some fans might wonder if the Broncos are raising ticket prices simply because they can.
"It's relative to the investments we're making off the field and in the stadium and now at Dove Valley with the practice facility," Freeman said. "It's all about being competitive. We're not raising revenues because we can. We're raising them to be competitive. I don't think there's any question of where the dollars go when we raise prices. It's been consistent throughout Pat Bowlen's ownership tenure."
In the past year, the Broncos and the Metropolitan Football Stadium District spent about $33 million to upgrade Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos also have an indoor practice facility under construction and are expanding their team headquarters. The cost of the two-part project will be more than $35 million.
While raising ticket prices, the Broncos have used an "alternate section" strategy. Seats in sections of the stadium that took on a price increase last year were not raised this year. The exception was the "upper corners" section, which saw a ticket bump for a second consecutive year.
But the upper corners also had a price reduction from $58 to $53 in 2012, before going back up to $57 in 2013 and to $61 in 2014.
The most significant increases are to the seats in the lower prime and lower sideline sections. Seats in the lower prime section have gone from costing $150 to $170 per game, a 13.3 percent increase. The lower sideline seats were bumped from $125 to $145 per game, an increase of 16 percent.
Fans in those sections can partially blame the secondary ticket market, which has boomed in recent years. The Broncos discovered Ticket Exchange received an average of $405 for lower-prime seats and $320 for lower-sideline seats last season.