Football fans may have to start taking out loans to demonstrate support for their teams.
If you think the NFL is greedy and takes advantage of fan loyalty at every opportunity, what with franchises charging full price for (meaningless) preseason games and hitting season ticketholders with ridiculous mandatory "seat fees" just for the privilege of buying one's tickets, add this to your list of grievances. In 2012, Nike became the official brand for team uniforms—and replica jerseys sold to fans—taking over for Reebok. Prices for jerseys sold to fans went up immediately, with the cheapest official team jerseys rising from $85 to $100.
Two years later, prices are going up again. While the low-end official NFL jersey made by Nike remains at $100, the two premier levels of jerseys will hit new heights. The "Limited" jersey, billed as "one step closer to mimicking the team's on-field jersey through the application of embroidery as well as tackle-twill numbering and lettering," and priced at $135 in 2012, will now run $150. And the top-of-the-line "Elite" jersey, pumped up as having the "same level of innovation that the athletes wear on the field" what with "zoned stretch fabric tailored for precise fit and movement, water-repelling fabric" and such, will have a retail price of $295, up from $250.
In a post at ESPN.com, a Nike spokesperson highlighted the fact that there were three distinct price points to suit the needs (and budgets) of a variety of fans, but had no comment as to why prices went up at the higher end. Matt Powell, an analyst for the sports marketing firm SportsOneSource, offered the simple, obvious explanation for Nike's move: "When you have a monopoly, you can charge whatever you want."