PALM BEACH — Bucs vice president Joel Glazer said the team is "extremely sensitive" to people who are struggling in today's economy, but he justified the team's more than 30 percent increase of some ticket prices this year as the cost of remaining competitive.
Glazer gave his yearly interview Monday at the NFL owners meetings. The son of team owner Malcolm Glazer spent 20 minutes discussing the state of the team, the family's desire to continue its ownership, the reluctance to sign high-priced free agents, and Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa in February.
One thing he wanted to make clear: The Glazers feel your pain.
But he said season ticket renewals are going well and there will be no TV blackouts locally this year.
"I think sports in general has gotten more expensive, and I don't like it," Glazer said. "I wish tickets were much cheaper. It should be affordable for everybody, and I don't think it's a good trend. But we're dealing in a competitive environment and I still feel we're giving good value for what people are paying."
Give us your assessment of your team.
Our whole belief is building a team through the draft. Keeping those players once you've identified good players, rewarding them, adding some free agents in niche areas that fill needs. And be patient and build. & So we feel very good about where the team is at. ... There's still more work to do.
You signed coach Jon Gruden and GM Bruce Allen to contract extensions. Why?
We're big believers in stability & and we like the direction we're headed.
Regarding the 30 percent ticket increase in some instances: How do you respond to criticism that you're not sensitive to what's going on in the economy?
The first thing I would say is we're extremely sensitive to it. Unfortunately, across all sports, ticket prices seem to be going up and up and up. And it's one part of being part of the National Football League that I don't like. & But what we found after surveying around the National Football League, even after our prices this year, there's still 15 teams with a higher general seat price than our top seats. So we're sitting right there in the middle even after an increase. But nobody likes it. & But we've got to stay competitive and, unfortunately, it's become part of sports.
How are season ticket renewals going?
We've had a very positive response. The response this year hasn't been materially different than previous years. We've communicated with a lot of our fans and once you walk them through it, they understand certain aspects of it. Because our price increases the previous years were not equal to a lot of the other teams', we fell way behind.
Does your family want to continue to own this team?
I've been asked that question for 13 years and there's no question about it. ... We love it. We're passionate about it. We live and die with every game. I've lost a lot of hair over the years. I've got a little left. But our goals are the same (as) when we first came in here: build another team that can win a championship and sustain the success.
What does the Super Bowl being in Tampa this year mean for your organization?
It's a wonderful thing for our community. It's a great reward for the Tampa Bay area.
If I'm a Bucs fan, do I have a chance to get Super Bowl tickets?
Yeah. Every year, there will be a lottery for general fans. There's only a limited number split over all the teams and they've reduced it over the years. But our goal is to try to make some tickets available for the local fans.
Can you talk about your approach to free agency?
You see every year that the winners in free agency are not the winners during the season and buyer beware. You've got to be able to resist that temptation to bring in these free agents because if they don't work out, you pay a big price later, and we feel like it could also affect the chemistry of the team and it also flies in the wind of our core philosophy of building in the draft, developing those guys, rewarding those guys and picking and choosing your free agents wisely. While it's not sexy to sit there and try to be disciplined — and you don't get that feel-good for the week — for the long haul, it pays dividends.
Do you believe Chris Simms will end up playing in Tampa Bay this year?
If you look back at the quarterback position the last few years & it's never quite gone according to plan. & Chris has been our starting quarterback two different times. He's had some tough times in those situations due to injury. We rewarded him last year and have a lot of faith in his abilities. It'll play itself out.
How is your father? He attended at least one game last season.
He definitely enjoyed that and got a lot of well wishes from a lot of people. He appreciates that and we appreciate it.