The Green Bay Packers face one of their most dangerous games of the year Sunday when they travel to Cleveland to play the hapless Browns.
Cleveland is 0-12 and the 6-6 Packers are barely hanging onto playoff hopes while future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers is sidelined, which means Green Bay has everything at stake, and the Browns have nothing to lose.
Not surprisingly, ticket prices reflect decidedly less interest in this game than most on the Packers’ schedule. Even in April, at $79 this game was last on the Packers’ schedule for lowest average get-in price and one of only two games that came in at less than $100, the other being the New Year’s Eve game at Detroit. The price for that game is about the same as it was in April, although it fluctuated during the season, while the lowest average ticket price for Cleveland is $13.
Despite the lower price, Wisconsin-based Packers fans aren’t making late purchases. Only 8 percent of purchases at SeatGeek during the past week were from Wisconsin addresses.
But that doesn’t mean FirstEnergy Stadium will be devoid of Packers fans.
Maggie Lawler of Kenosha and Jake Dowling of St. Mary’s, Ohio, bought their tickets early in the season.
Dowling paid $109 for tickets in the end zone that are going for $36 now, but he’s too much of a fan to care. A cancer survivor as a kid, he became a fan through the Make-A-Wish program when a volunteer told him about the Packers and gave him team items, as did his bus driver’s sister, who lived in Green Bay. A victory in Super Bowl XXXI sealed the deal.
He’s been waiting eight years for the Packers’ turn to play in Cleveland again and bought his tickets in July.
“At the time, we thought the price was solid … but with how both teams are playing and no Aaron Rodgers, I have seen the prices have dropped,” he said.
A sports editor at an Ohio newspaper, Dowling understands the dangers of a game like this.
“You never want to be that team that loses to a winless squad,” he said.
“I’ve listened to and seen enough Browns games this year to know not to underestimate them,” Lawler said. “Their pass rush is impressive, and they’ll try to get after (quarterback Brett) Hundley. I like our defense against their offense, though.”
Lawler and fiance Mark Loney, who is a Browns fan, bought their tickets in April, when prices were higher and Cleveland still had hope of something other than 0-16.
“We paid quite a bit for them,” Lawler said. “Prices were jacked up, given how well Packers fans travel.”
They probably wouldn’t have chosen the Browns game if they were both Packers fans.
“We just couldn’t pass up this opportunity to see our teams play, since it won’t happen again for four years.” she said.
Jack Scherer on the other hand, bought his tickets more recently and got an “outstanding” price. Scherer, who lives in Columbus, had identified either the Pittsburgh or Cleveland games as his best chance to see the Packers. He wasn’t able to make it to Pittsburgh over Thanksgiving weekend, so that left Cleveland.
“I had not yet purchased tickets when Aaron Rodgers was hurt in the game against the Vikings,” he said. “I checked tickets immediately after the injury and I saw they were very cheap. I held out a few weeks longer and I purchased tickets yesterday. They were $55 each for 2 tickets in the lower bowl.”
Dave and Jenna Evans of De Pere bought their tickets just before Rodgers was injured, but they are behind the Packers bench and haven’t seen those prices change much. They are making a weekend of it in Cleveland, with an NBA Cavaliers game, a visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and even to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton if time permits.
“We attend at least one away game per year with the goal of getting to all the stadiums,” Dave Evans said. “We review the schedule every year when it comes out to try and find a game that’s unique and fun. This year we chose Cleveland since they only play there once every eight years, tickets were bound to be cheap in comparison to others, and we wanted to double dip with the Halls of Fame.”
Other upcoming games
Prices for Carolina and Minnesota are holding up. That’s because there is a chance Aaron Rodgers could return as early as the Dec. 17 game against the Panthers, assuming they are still in a playoff hunt and the Green Bay medical staff is confident Rodgers’ collarbone can withstand a pounding.
If the Packers lose and their playoff hopes die, tickets for remaining games might fall, although that’s less likely for the Minnesota game than it is for the game in Detroit.
“With the game against the division-rival Vikings, who are looking like a real contender, it is possible we wouldn’t see much of a drop because of a combination of Vikings fans coming to Lambeau and Packers fans hoping to play the role of spoiler,” said Chris Leyden of SeatGeek.
The game is scheduled for Dec. 23, a Saturday.