In honor of the last game at Giants Stadium, the organization and team did nothing.
The Giants organization made no effort to bid any kind of special farewell to their home. There was no fly over (a semi-regular occurrence), no special halftime show (a video montage and a wave from L.T. and Jason Sehorn does not commemorate thirty-four seasons very well), no fireworks, nothing.
The ownership was perfectly content to kick away the stadium without sentiment, leaving behind loyal fans that are not rich or excessive enough to spend a fortune on the right to continue supporting the team in the adjacent new stadium.
The Giants team made no effort either. The already worrisome defense played softer than two-hand touch. The team had no sense of urgency, no spark, no fight, no bite.
I knew this game would make me sad, but not in the way that it did. My grandfather got his season tickets in 1938 and generously shared the pair of seats with his children and grandchildren, successfully breeding a passionate and loyal family of fans. After his death, when the tickets were transferred to my uncle, we learned that only a handful of people held season tickets for longer than our family. This fact only served to strengthen our pride.
Meanwhile, my father and his friend have shared their own pair of tickets for around thirty years. While three decades of commitment doesn’t boast as well as seventy-plus years of dedication, I have been fortunate enough to have access to several games a season for as long as I can remember understanding football. Going to games has been part more than a tradition. It has been an integral part of my life.
As technology has advanced, I have remained an advocate for the culture of going to games. There is an energy in the stadium that can be electric or brutal, depending on what the situation warrants. As a fan, I feel more connected to the team by being there. Even though the team can’t hear me shout curious questions such as, “Why aren’t Jacobs and Bradshaw ever in at the same time?”, useful instructions like, “You have no time and no time-outs, throw to the sidelines!” and constructive criticism like, “Stop crying to the official and make the play yourself!, I feel like I’m contributing to the atmosphere.
And it ended today. The Giants organization requires a $12,500 Personal Seat License (PSL) per ticket for my grandfather’s pair of seats, whose face value will rise from $105 per ticket per game, to $500 per ticket per game. Part of the reason the ticket price skyrocketed is because the seats have become club level, which provide free food and beverage, excluding alcohol. As appealing as the most expensive all-you-can-eat boozeless buffet is, this financial commitment is absolutely unjustifiable. If my family could afford this kind of extravagant spending, we’d save up to buy our own team. Punished for holding some of the best seats in the house, our family was not offered any reasonable alternative.
My father’s more modest seats require $10,000 per ticket PSL, with the price per ticket rising from $95 to $140 per ticket per game. To make it clear, the PSL is a onetime tax required to have the right to continue to purchase season tickets (which include paying full price for the two worthless home preseason scrimmages). Every seat in the new stadium requires a PSL. There are no guarantees from PSLs. In another thirty-something years when the team wants a new stadium, the PSLs will not necessarily translate.
Neither of those options are reasonable to anyone who does not own their own mint. The fans are being asked to pay for an expensive facility in a bad economy. Some fans are ready, willing and able to contribute to financing the new stadium. But some of us just want to buy tickets to the games, not donate a hefty sum of money to someone else’s business plan.
I’m glad that my grandfather is not here to see his beloved team choose greed over allegiance. He was the eternal optimist, the one who never gives up because there is always plenty of time to come back with Hail Mary passes, onside kicks, and Music City Miracles.
This team didn’t share the same belief my grandfather always had. The players and coaches did not want to try to grab the wheel and get back into the game. They didn’t try. They gave up on their season before halftime, conceding the game by vaguely going through the motions without any faint sense of urgency.
The team didn’t play for the playoffs, for themselves, or for the “loyal fans” they claim to appreciate. I knew I would leave the Meadowlands disappointed in the Giants organization. Saying “goodbye” to the stadium I grew up in, and the season tickets my family treasures was the unwanted end of an era. But I had no idea I’d leave so disheartened by the Giants lackluster players and coaches.