By Matt Braunstein

In America, football is perceived and marketed as a sport for the common man, the Average Joe and the working class shlub. It is that very demographic that the sport’s popularity and monumental success has been built upon. The values of hard work, toughness, sacrifice, teamwork, physical pain, and emotional glory have profoundly linked the athletes and coaches on the field with the screaming fans in the stands since 1920. All of that history seems to mean nothing now.

A trend has been spreading across the league in recent years and it can be described in the old adage, “Out with the old, in with the new.” In with new players, coaches, owners, merchandise, stadiums, and now fans. This maxim definitively characterizes the New York Giants team and franchise. The NY Giants organization has been working diligently to build their new Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, which is scheduled to replace the current Giants stadium in 2010.

However, in a showing of unbelievable distaste, disrespect and arrogance, the team recently announced that mandatory PSLs, or “Personal Seat Licenses,” will be part of the purchase price for every stadium seat in the new building. A PSL is a one-time fee that guarantees buyers the rights to purchase Giants season tickets. This applies not only to new customers and fans, but to every current Giants season ticket-holder, as well.

The PSL prices ranges from $1,000 to $20,000 based on the location of the seat and its proximity to the field. What this means is that anybody who wishes to buy season tickets in this new state-of-the-art stadium will have to shell out a hefty PSL fee before they even pay for their actual seats. Ticket prices are sure to be increased from the current average price of $88.06 per game according to Comcast.net, where the average family price is said to be $480.74 per game.

“We have spent months exploring our various options regarding the financing of the construction of the new stadium,” said team co-owner John Mara. “Given construction costs and NFL and lender requirements for paying down our debt, and after much thought and analysis, we decided this PSL program is necessary. All the net proceeds from the sale of PSLs will be used to fund construction of the new stadium.”

That seems to make sense, doesn’t it? The Giants ownership is spending a huge amount of cash to build a shiny beautiful new 1.6 billion dollar stadium with all the amenities and luxuries included, so in return, they ask for the paying customer to pick up some of the tab, being that all these fantastic upgrades are built to enhance the fan’s experience. Well that’s all swell, but if one reduces all these figures and explanations down to their basic meaning, the PSL doesn’t leave such an acceptable impression.

First of all, anytime a businessman tells you he’s spending money for your sake, he’s most likely feeding you a huge line of bullshit. Largely successful capitalists make business decisions predicated only on their company’s profit, and in turn their own individual profit. The NY Giants ownership didn’t build a new stadium to make the fans happy; they built a new stadium because they thought it would make them more money. Some of this immense profit is being made through these outrageously priced PSLs.

The average season ticket holder is being completely screwed in this situation. Fans that have had season tickets for years must now forfeit them unless they pay an exorbitant fee that most of them will be unable to afford. We’re not talking about those in the club seats or the luxury suites to whom $20,000 is mere chump change. Most season ticket holders either had the tickets passed down to them by family members, or bought their tickets decades ago at much cheaper prices. Others were stuck in a waiting list for years before they finally had a chance to buy their seats.

These people exist for the most part within the middle and working classes, and have paid hard-earned money for their seats year after year, despite the increases in price and decreases in quality. As the stadium grew older and more decrepit, the fans spent more and more money to see the game in person, paying $5 for a hotdog and $8 for a beer. Why? Because they love the game and they love their team, and to most of them, it’s all worth it for the miraculous feeling of actually being there when the Giants pulled off an amazing play or won a critical game. These are the people who cheered their team to victory in the playoffs last year and a historic win over the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

One angry NY Giant fan and ticket holder wrote on nygmen.blogspot.com, “I have had tickets for more than thirty years and have attended most games. I was paying $2,200 for two tickets and in one year, my cost will jump from $2,200 to $23,000 and $8,000 per year thereafter with increases I am sure. Does that sound fair to you? When they say this is fair to their fans, the fans they are really talking about are the new fans that can afford this ridiculous cost and not the diehard fans that have been supporting them for thirty years through thick and thin.”

Most Giant fans cannot retain the right to their current seats as well as the increased price of their seats in the new stadium. And for those who can’t or won’t pay, where will their seats go? How will the Giants make up for all this lost revenue? A small number of these seats will be purchased by rich football fans, but since the rich are the minority in any state (NY and NJ included) chances are that these well-to-do folks are not going to fill the void.

The only logical solution is massive corporate acquisition and ownership of these newly available seats. Much like the Super Bowl, wealthy corporations and conglomerates will buy up these seats in bunches and then disperse them amongst their clients and employees. Theoretically, we will see an Omnicom Group section and a J.P. Morgan Chase section along with Merrill Lynch, Bloomberg Inc., McDonalds, etc. The stadium will be filled with emotionally castrated cubicle workers, Chinese business representatives and oil-rich Arab princes who find public beheadings more entertaining than touchdowns.

So you see, what team co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch are really telling the fan base of the NY Giants is that they are expendable. Their years of loyalty and support mean nothing. The sold out games and billions spent on tickets, food, parking, jerseys and countless other merchandise means nothing. Their worth is no greater than the size of their bank account. They no longer are the backbone of the National Football League, whose logo might as well be a giant dollar sign.

Long gone are the screaming, face-painted fans wearing throwback jerseys over old and tattered shoulder pads, chanting and singing with their fellow comrades. He or she has been replaced by a person in a suit and tie, waving their briefcase in defiance of a referee’s bad call while trying to manage stock options on their blackberry. Such a sad transformation can only be perceived as a travesty and an insult to those who made football the cultural goliath it is in America today.