How the 2024 NFL schedule screwed Steelers season ticket holders

There’s a lot that has been said about the Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 regular season schedule. By now, we’re all aware of the Christmas Day game, the AFC North division games all being played in the final half of the season and the overall strength of the schedule.

However, what hasn’t been addressed is how the Steelers’ schedule affects the fans, namely those who buy the tickets and attend games.

I know this may come off as complaining, especially for those who don’t attend games. However, going to watch the Steelers in person isn’t a cheap endeavor. And it’s certainly one where fans shouldn’t lose out on their investment.

Embed from Getty Images

It begins with a seat license at Acrisure Stadium that locks you into the same seat and an autorenewal of your season ticket package. That cost is debited from your account early in the year before the schedule is announced. This is probably true for nearly all of the seats at Acrisure Stadium, save a few unlicensed sections scattered around the facility and tickets that may be held for players and their family.

Season ticket holders get zapped for whatever the charge is for the number of games in that season. Before the expansion to a 17-game regular season in 2021, that number was always 10 home games: 2 preseason contests and 8 regular season ones.

Following 2021, the total of regular season home games may be increased to 9, but the ticket package remains at 10 games due to a reduction to three total preseason games. That could mean only one preseason game at home, instead of two, which is a better value.

I should also preface the remainder of this article by saying I’m not a fan of the resale market, but sometimes we can’t make every game, right? If you aren’t willing to eat the cost of a ticket, then sometimes you can recoup your money. At the very least, you may be able to give your tickets away, but it all depends.

Take the preseason for example. They are the least desirable games to attend. On the SCU Podcast, Brian and I have offered our preseason tickets in contests or otherwise for free, and sometimes still cannot get takers.

In short, one less preseason game is great for fans who don’t care to attend or cannot for other reasons – its one less ticket to get rid of.

That’s where the 2024 schedule makes its impact first felt, giving the Steelers back-to-back preseason games in the first two weeks of the exhibition period. Both games are primetime ones, but an oddly scheduled Friday night game may rule out those fans who are involved with high school football. If they can’t get rid of their tickets, they’re out money. Possibly two weeks in a row.

Embed from Getty Images

The Steelers organization has tried to right the ship of ticket costs by lowering the preseason game prices. These figures are for example, but illustrate the headache of owning or buying tickets.

The formerly $100 preseason ticket is now reduced to $70. However, that “savings” of $30 is then mixed into the regular season package with tiered pricing. The premier games will now cost $30 more and with two preseason games, that means two higher-priced regular season games.

For season ticket holders, this means nothing. That $30 is going into Ticket A or Ticket B. Their package is going to cost X dollars total regardless of the silly pricing tiers. All it means is that some resellers will get increased value for their non-preseason seats.

That’s not the only spot where fans stand to lose in the ticket pricing landscape. Date, time, and weather conditions also play a key role in how desirable a certain game is. Again, for diehard fans, this probably isn’t an issue. For older fans, such as a nice retired teacher I know, he can only tolerate going to games in September or October due to the climate. His days of seeing bitter-cold games in person are long gone.

Embed from Getty Images

In a nearly annual tradition, the NFL makes sure the Steelers are on the road for the first week of the season. But in a twist of nastiness this year, Pittsburgh is on the road for three of the first four games on their calendar, including the first two. (I suppose the allure of sending new Steelers offensive coordinator Arthur Smith back to Atlanta was too great for Roger Goodell?)

The Steelers’ first game at Acrisure Stadium kicks off on September 22nd against the Chargers. The next three consecutive home games will all be played in primetime with Sunday Night games against the Cowboys and Jets, and a Monday Night Football matchup with the Giants.

Embed from Getty Images

This plays havoc with anyone who needs to work the next morning. A Sunday 1 pm Eastern kickoff time allows even those who are traveling from out of town to adequately plan and probably not have to burn vacation time to attend a game. On the contrary, night games almost guarantee empty seats at the end because fans need to hit the road. In addition, fewer fans walking to the parking lots after a game means less security for stadiums and fans: I know this from personal experience, unfortunately.

The tailgate lots usually open late for weekday games too, making traffic miserable and offering little for those who do need to take Monday off!

Those games also cause safety concerns when getting back to your vehicle and safely traveling in the dark. Not to mention, the Steelers don’t play a traditional Sunday 1 pm home kickoff again until November 17th against the Ravens.

That’s eight weeks between Sunday 1pm kickoffs. Pittsburgh hosts the last of their three Sunday 1pm kickoffs on December 8th against the Cleveland Browns. (Sorry Phil, hope you can at least stay up and watch more than one home game this year!)

Embed from Getty Images

Then there’s the travesty that is the Christmas Day game. For younger folks without responsibilities, this is probably the best time to snatch up tickets for a game as those of us with families and traditions are excommunicated from the group for even thinking about football on a major holiday – lest we go to the game!

Seriously, that has to be the most boneheaded move. Good luck if you know someone willing to buy those tickets and skip out on Christmas festivities with a 1 pm kick.

That’s okay though Roger Goodell, we’re fine with eating the cost of several tickets for this season and hoping you don’t pull another fast one in 2025. (Lord knows the Steelers game on Christmas Eve two years ago didn’t satisfy their penance to be left out of holiday games for a few years!)

And finally, we’ll wait on bated breath to see when the Steelers face the Bengals at home for the Week 18 finale. Hopefully, the Steelers have a great season and the game isn’t played on a Saturday at some random time – nullifying traveling fans’ hotel plans and killing their refund options for booking in advance.

There’s also the possibility that the Steelers have too good of a season as well, and if the Bengals have the same, then we’ll be looking at another Sunday Night Football game for the AFC North division title. That would be a best-case scenario that I’d have little room to complain about, other than it will be January 5th which is traditionally the coldest weather at Acrisure.

Here’s to hoping the NFL learned its lesson and doesn’t play the same games with the Steelers games next season!

Suggested articles from our sponsors