How Do The Detroit Lions Feel About Season Ticket Holders? "F— 'Em"

Kevin Furlong is a season ticket holder with the Detroit Lions. As masochistic as that sounds, it seems that Kevin didn’t appreciate an email that the Lions inadvertently sent him concerning a problem with his tickets. The email read: “Lance…he is not talking about you here. Mark was asked to speak to these people and he said no. F… ‘em until next year.”

As if that wasn’t hostile enough, when a local sports reporter contacted the Lions for comment, and suggested that the tone of the F-bomb email shed some light on the larger issue of the Detroit Lions producing a generally poor football “product,” the Lions executive vice president and chief operating officer, Tom Lewand, replied: “If you write that, it will be factually incorrect and bordering on slander,” Lewand said. “And I will come after you.” Boy, they sure are grouchy up there at Ford Field. Cheer up! Brett Favre retired!

From the Oakland Press:

Furlong owned season tickets for three years. He had two in the club level the first year. The second year, he received two more in the lower level stands after being on a waiting list — so he had four. The third season, they reduced the size of the club level, including a portion where his seats were located, which were on the aisle.

He said he wanted to keep those two seats, add two club-level seats and asked that two seats he had in the stands be combined with his seats from the club level that were moved to the stands. The Lions agreed. It gave him six season tickets.

But when he went to sit in his old seats, somebody else was sitting in them. He asked them to leave, but when he looked at his tickets, he noticed his seats had been moved.

“It was an embarrassing and awkward moment,” Furlong said. “I was stunned.”

When he contacted the Lions, he was told nothing could be done about it during the 2007 season, but he was promised aisle seats for 2008.

Yet, when Furlong received his season ticket invoice for 2008, it was for the same seats he had in 2007.

It was then that Furlong canceled his season tickets in an e-mail to Schul. Powser then e-mailed Furlong with an offer for more desirable seats, but Furlong said it was a matter of principle — and he wouldn’t accept the offer.

Then Furlong received the inadvertent e-mail from Schul.

The entire e-mail reads, “Lance…he is not talking about you here. Mark was asked to speak to these people and he said no. F… ‘em until next year.”

“Mark” is Lions ticket director Mark Graham.

Once he heard of the e-mail, Lewand called Furlong and invited him to a game.

“I did so before I heard from any media on this,” he said.

Lewand offered no excuses for the incident, but absolved Graham from blame, although the e-mail in question indicates Graham refused to discuss the issue with season ticketholders such as Furlong, who had their seats unexpectedly moved for the 2007 season.

“It was an inaccurate characterization of a conversation held in 2007, not this year,” Lewand said of Schul’s e-mail.

Lewand said he was, “deeply disappointed with the e-mail and light it portrayed, and I have addressed it.”

“There are a number of different levels this could have been avoided and we realize that,” Lewand said. “One, with the invoice we sent out for this year. If it had been correct, none of this would have happened. We never condone our fans being discussed in that manner, whether it be in an e-mail or any type of discussion among members of our organization.”

Whoops. We’d always assumed that season ticket holders got good customer service, considering the amount of money they spent. Guess not.

The Detroit Lions have since “clarified” that “I will come after you” wasn’t meant as a threat towards Pat Caputo, the Oakland Press writer.

Does e-mail show how Lions really feel about their fans? [Oakland Press](Thanks, Kraig!)
(Photo: yodie ann )

Comments

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  1. TMMadman says:

    The only thing that needs to be said about the Lions is: Fire Millen!

  2. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @TMMadman: Amen, my brother.

  3. mantari says:

    Love it. Redefining what a season ticket actually means? Brilliant! Brilliant like redefining “torture.”

  4. 44 in a Row says:

    Whoops. We’d always assumed that season ticket holders got good customer service, considering the amount of money they spent. Guess not.

    There’s way too much demand in most markets for a team to have to worry about making its season ticket holders too happy. I don’t know how it is in Detroit, and I know the Arizona Cardinals aren’t exactly a hot ticket, but the waiting list for Giants season tickets is said to be about 25 years, and the Green Bay Packers have been sold out on a season ticket basis since at least the 1960s. Most teams don’t lose anything if a season ticket-holder leaves in a huff, because there are thousands of people waiting behind him for an opportunity.

  5. ryan89 says:

    I’m number 63,000ish on the waiting list for the Cubs. I figure I’ll get them around the time I retire in 30 years. No, they don’t care too much about season ticket holders.

  6. APFPilot says:

    I’m 129,000 on the list for the NY Football Giants

  7. nursetim says:

    That phrase seems to sum up the Ford family’s philosophy towards the fans in general.@TMMadman:
    Do you agree that Millen has pictures or something on old man Ford, since he still has a job despite having an abysmal record?

  8. 44 in a Row says:

    Do you agree that Millen has pictures or something on old man Ford, since he still has a job despite having an abysmal record?

    Personally, I think it’s that William Clay Ford is a closet Packers fan.

  9. Buran says:

    I don’t think the existence of potential customers should be used as an excuse to treat existing ones like dirt. When word gets out, potential customers can be, and are, lost.

    I’ve changed my mind about who to patronize in the future, in the past, due to bad press and word of mouth.

  10. 44 in a Row says:

    The only thing that needs to be said about the Lions is: Fire Millen!

    Are you perhaps suggesting that Joey Harrington was not a wise use of a first-round draft pick?

  11. highmodulus says:

    @nursetim: Worse, it’s this creepy father-son thing that Millen has able to exploit over the now elderly Ford. The Lions and Raiders will continue to stink until there is a “change in control” at the top.

  12. GenXCub says:

    Are they taking it seriously?

  13. timstep says:

    @44 in a Row:
    I’m sure he’s referring to Charles Rodgers. Or Mike Williams. Or…

  14. 44 in a Row says:

    On the bright side, they did wind up with the right Roy Williams, eventually.

  15. smallestmills says:

    @Buran:

    That sounds sweet and nice until you consider the Lions. People have been claiming to give up their loyalty to them for years, then a new season comes around and you go just to see the other teams. That’s the grip football holds on its fans. It’s one thing to have empty seats in a baseball or basketball stadium, but with the limited exposure that fans get to live football it’s going to sell out, even with a shitty franchise like the Lions. And as much as I get let down every year, come summertime I have bought into it again and am ready for my Lions to go all the way.

  16. dmuth says:

    Someone needs to point out to this Tom Lewand character that written defamation is *libel*, not slander.

    If you’re going to make silly legal threats, Tom, at least get the terminology right.

  17. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    “local sports reporter . . . suggested that the tone . . . shed some light on the larger issue of the Detroit Lions [produces] a generally poor football ‘product,'”

    Oooh, feel the sting of truth! FEEL IT!

  18. spinachdip says:

    @dmuth: Yeah, it bugs me when people who threaten legal action don’t know the law. Plus, making a subjective observation about the Lions management could never, ever, ever, ever be ruled libelous or slanderous.

    @Buran:
    Football benefits from a scarcity of its product. They only play 8 home games a year (because they sure as hell aren’t making the playoffs), so multiply that by 65,000 (capacity of Ford Field), that’s 520,000 total seats available per season.

    Compare that with:
    Tigers: 3.3 million seats per season (41,000 x 81 home games)
    Pistons: 902,000 seats per season (22,000 x 41 home games)

    And the NFL and its broadcast partners do a bang up job of marketing the overall product, so even though the Lions themselves are a shit product, they still enjoy the league’s halo effect.

  19. Propaniac says:

    @44 in a Row: Really. I know there’s a very, very long waitlist for Redskins season tickets. I was more shocked by the part about this guy apparently being able to buy whatever season tickets he wanted than by the horrible treatment he received.

  20. B says:

    Well, that explains why Matt Millen is still employed, along with their recent draft/free agency decisions.

  21. bdgbill says:

    People still go to public events in Detroit?

    The last time I was there it appeared that anyone who could afford a couple gallons of gas had evacuated the place.

  22. iMe2 says:

    I love how the Dodgers not letting poor kids in the non-box seats line up for baseball autographs anymore doesn’t get press but this does.

    Any Lions season ticket holder who doesn’t already think that Lions ownership couldn’t care less about them is incredibly naive. I’m a Lions fan too and the only parade in the Lions have ever had was a protest parade to Fire Millen. Until that happens don’t expect customer service; I’m kind of tired of the awesome sports fans of Michigan being spat upon by the good old Ford family over and over again. I wonder if they’re enjoying their summer in the Hamptons while the rest of the local economy turns to sh*t?

  23. iMe2 says:

    @bdgbill: Oh you mean the 70s? Also, nice cheap shot, good one.

  24. spinachdip says:

    @iMe2: Actually, TJ Simers wrote about the story (which is really, really shitty) for LA Times, and it actually got pretty widespread coverage, including a mention on Deadspin (which is where I first read about it): [www.latimes.com]

    Also, the Ford family is very, very busy making sure that people stop buying American cars.

  25. wallspray says:

    Ok… they offered him BETTER tickets, but it was a matter of principle. I hate when people get all up in arms over their pride. The company said “well we can’t do anything about that mistake we made to get you those same seats, but we can get you better seats.” but the guy let his pride get in the way of better tickets. There is no excuse for the way the situation was handled but in the end he could have had a solution with bad customer service but he decided not to in order to not hurt his pride.

  26. forgottenpassword says:

    You’d be amazed at how unprofessional people can be when behind closed doors. I’ve sat in on some board meetings before & the behavior of some of these people ranks up there with shit-flinging monkeys.

  27. spinachdip says:

    BTW, thinkbeforeyousend.com has a collection of user-submitted email mistakes:

    [thinkbeforeyousend.com.]

  28. QrazyQat says:

    “I will come after you”

    Sure, that could mean anything. WTF, is Condo Rice working for them now?

  29. mad_oak says:

    The Lions are a piss poor excuse and a blight on Kwame-ville. They will never improve and they have no incentive to. Ford is too f’ing old to care. In any other franchise in the world Millen would have been unemployed for years. ‘Fans’ desperate for any form of football routinely sell out the stadium which guarantees a full house for Ford and local TV rights. Why improve when you are already maxing out your income potential. Exactly how many chances does Millen get to hire a coach and put together a team?

  30. spinachdip says:

    @mad_oak: Not to be Anal McNitpick, but the Lions don’t have a local TV deal, at least in the way that the Tigers or Pistons do, since all regular season and playoff games are on national TV (they probably have a weekly coach’s show and maybe a magazine show, but I can’t imagine that adding to the coffers much).

    Though that kinda reinforces your point – it’s incredibly hard for an NFL team to lose money. They probably have a sweetheart deal on their digs, their payroll is controlled by the salary cap, and they’re guaranteed income through revenue sharing and the best broadcast rights deals this side of the Olympics.

    You could pick up a homeless guy off the street and he’d be able to turn a profit running the Lions. Except they might actually win a few more games with the drunk homeless guy in charge.

  31. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @spinachdip: Also, that sort of observation isn’t actually subjective at all. It is a verifiable fact that the Lions fucking suck.

  32. mythago says:

    And if you are inclined to make dumbass legal threats, make them through a lawyer. He or she will be able to tell you that they are dumbass, and if they convey the threats anyway, you can fire your lawyer and blame it on a misunderstanding with your attorney.

  33. uricmu says:

    Admittedly, the guy has 6 season tickets, which means that he likely scalps them so he doesn’t deserve much concern and he is a f**er.

    If he started with two tickets, then got two more, and then two more, and assuming his family hasn’t expanded exponentially. People should be allowed to have that big a block of a season ticket anyway, even if for the lions.

  34. rdldr1 says:

    I am sure Kitna can pray for Jesus’ help on behalf of the Lions. On Jesus can help the team out of this pickle.

  35. Parting says:

    @bdgbill: Stop trolling, go somewhere else.

  36. cmcd14 says:

    As a Lions fan I’m not surprised in the least bit. In fact, no one should be. The Ford’s suck at running a football team! SELL THEM PLEASE!

  37. nedzeppelin says:

    @ryan89: That’s why the Cubs never need to worry about playing well or winning the World Series. They’ve basically got the seats filled for the next 100 already.

  38. dink23 says:

    @uricmu: Don’t you actually have to sell the tickets for a profit for it to be considered scalping? I mean we are talking about the Detroit Lions (says the guy with the Vikings avatar.)

  39. mikelotus says:

    As a Washington Redskins fan, I wish we could play Detroit twice a year or more.

  40. P_Smith says:

    Millen is the Pete Rose of the NFL. He’s not in his job because of his ability, but because of his “special relationship” with the owner.

  41. ageshin says:

    I have a feeling that ticket sales has ceased to be a real source of income to the main sports organization long ago. Tv contracts and advertising are the things that make these organizations profitable. The fan who actualy shows up to the games no matter whether a season ticket holder or not is really not that important in terms of the economics of the sports. They could even do without them, though it would look funny with no one in the stands making noise. Maby with the advent of really good 3d graphics, there will be a point in time when there will be no need for the local “fan” at all. Of course with really good 3d graphics there may no longer be a need for real players either!

  42. strangeffect says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: It’s true, your honor.

    This team has no penis.

  43. HOP says:

    i lost interest in pro football when irsay moved the colts from balto…football is just another big business….when i wanna watch some real football, i’ll take in a local sandlot or high school game….pro football is now a plastic game, played by plastic players on plastic grass….and the whole games is now computer controlled……

  44. WarOtter - I went to Japan and all I got was this tumor. says:

    @ageshin: Detroit has no ‘real’ players. We just have some people who put large bits of plastic on and suck consistently on Sundays.

  45. Wormfather says:

    At least they didnt say they were taking it seriously. :)

  46. @44 in a Row: Yeah, people in Wisconsin are only half-joking when they say they married into Packers tickets.

  47. bodah says:

    I have 4 season tickets for the Bengals. Talk about masochism. Last year by week 5 I hated Sundays because it meant going to the games. I couldn’t even sell them if I wanted to, no one would pay even face value.

  48. macinjosh says:

    “Send him the standard F— off letter.”

  49. 44 in a Row says:

    They could even do without them, though it would look funny with no one in the stands making noise. Maby with the advent of really good 3d graphics, there will be a point in time when there will be no need for the local “fan” at all. Of course with really good 3d graphics there may no longer be a need for real players either!

    I know you’re kidding, but this actually leads to an interesting point: the teams do need fans to show up, because of the way the TV contracts and blackout rules are constructed. Without getting into too much detail, if a game doesn’t sell out, it can’t be shown in the local market, which is why people in Arizona sometimes have a hard time seeing Cardinals games on TV. It’s never an issue in places like Green Bay or New York, where the stadium is sold out on a season-ticket basis, and if there’s a small gap the local station will generally buy out the remaining tickets to ensure broadcast availability, but it’s just one more thing the NFL thought of. Say what you want about the on-field product for some of these teams, but it’s an incredibly well-run league.

  50. PeanutButter says:

    it’s the detroit lions. they haven’t won in like, a BAZILLION years. you’d think they’d be extra nice to the people who are still willing to watch them fuck up on ford field. they’re the only thing i’m ashamed to admit is from my state.

  51. I have to join with some other posters and say… huh? What did the customer want as a resolution? How does a company/sports team resolve an issue if you don’t want it resolved?

    Why meet the Lions with the same standard of conduct as their own? Accept their offer and apology with grace and aplomb.

  52. zlionsfan says:

    @44 in a Row: granted, my knowledge is dated, but it isn’t anything like that in Detroit. The one year I had season tickets, 1998, I got a lower-level seat with no problem. (Singles are easier to find, true, but there wasn’t a waiting list, although that was in the Silverdome.)

    Yes, I obviously was dumb for buying Lions season tickets, and dumber still considering that I drove from Indianapolis, but we digress … demand in Detroit is somewhat below that in New York.

    @spinachdip: A more apt comparison might be to the Red Wings: just over 20,000 at the Joe, and with regular playoff appearances (I hope three more home wins this year, four if they need Game 7), that’s around 900,000 seats per season (and the Pistons would be closer to a million with their current playoff success). Despite the success the Red Wings have seen, there are still empty seats during regular-season and playoff games, but the Lions continue to draw comparatively large crowds despite enduring the third-worst era in modern (16-game schedule) times. Only the Bucs (1982-92) and Colts (1980-86) had worse winning percentages than Detroit has seen during the Millen Era. The NFL really does take care of its own.

    I don’t think the surprise in this story should be that the Lions treated someone like crap. It should be that someone in the ticket office didn’t want to treat him that way.