Detroit, MI - In an effort to bolster sagging ticket sales for his beleaguered NFL franchise, Lions owner William Clay Ford has accepted a $200 million Obama administration bailout designed to lower ticket prices to levels obtainable to the average fan.
"We've come to realize that certain income levels can't possibly afford to attend Lions home games," said Ford from his winter home on Grand Cayman. "With this distribution of funds over a five year period we should be able to offer upper level tickets in the $15 to $20 range."
While the Lions sit back and wait for the onslaught of season ticket requests in the "cheap seats," an unexpected backlash is occurring in Detroit's fragile, though time-tested economy.
De'quan Jefferson, a resident of Detroit's troubled east side has been attending games since 1984 and says the bailout may prevent him from doing so in the 2009 season.
"Let's face it, they suck. With an 0-16 record, it ain't easy bein' a fan, but I always came up with a way to support 'em. You can make them seats as cheap as you want, but I ain't comin' outta pocket with a nickel," said Jefferson in a storefront interview at Big Shuggie's Bar-b-que.
"Problem is, the seats in the lower level be comin' down, too and that's where the payoff is at," exclaimed a disgruntled Jefferson.
"Follow me, ya heard. I could always get a ticket up top from some working guy who got 'em from his boss who couldn't make the game. Fortunately for me, neither can the guys with the tickets 'cause they too busy workin'," said Jefferson with a toothy grin.
"I could get that ticket for a ten-pound bag of turkey necks I picked up with food stamps. At this point I got no outta pocket 'cause the food stamps ain't cost me nuthin' and the neckbones come to about $7.99 for the whole bag. I trade the neckbones for the ticket and I'm off to the game"
As Jefferson explained the complicated inner workings of the Eastside's economy, a broader picture began to unfold. "If the guy with the ticket takes a day off, he don't get paid and that starts a drag on the local economy. No kids going to movies, no extra groceries. And a ten-pound bag of neckbones sits unused in a grocery freezer."
"Who's this bailout gonna help?" asked an irrate Jefferson to anyone who would listen as we passed Martha's Package Liquors. "I could take the neckbone ticket and catch the first quarter up top. By then I know ain't nobody sitting down low and I can make a move down toward the sideline. Now $8 wortha neckbones got me in a $100 seat! That's how economics works!
"Once that $100 seat comes down to $50, there'll be mo'fo's all over down there and the day of the free upgrade be over," shouted Jefferson while slamming an empty bottle of Wild Irish Rose against the dilapidated bricks that used to house Slim Nicky's Record Store.
"What's pissin' me off is that once the beverage prices and parking start coming down, the guy with the tickets boss will start goin' to the game and the entire system breaks down."
"Now I gotta come up with $20 for a ticket, which comes outta my unemployment subsidy. That money used to go for beers, but money's tight and I'd have to make a choice and the Lions ain't it," stated a confused and disgruntled De'quan.
"My personal economics be goin' to hell over this. If I gotta buy neckbones now, they worth $7.99 and I can't get nuthin' for 'em," decried a defeated Jefferson. "I'm stuck with neckbones. Can't trade 'em for beer 'cause you need about 200 pounds of 'em and we'd have neckbones all over the damned place!"
"If you follow my math, that's about a $90 swing in the wrong direction for me, not to mention the unsold neckbones and the beer I ain't buyin' in the stadium. I'll tell 'ya this, somebody in Washington don't know dick about economics! It won't be six months before Phong's butcher shop be closin' 'cause nobody gonna have no use for no damned turkey necks!"