Houston Texans’ latest business move speaks to the uncertainty of times

Houston Texans' president Jamey Rootes and chairman/CEO Cal McNair (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Houston Texans' president Jamey Rootes and chairman/CEO Cal McNair (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans have made an important business decision and it will certainly make many fans happy. But it speaks to the uncertainty of the times. How?

The Houston Texans could be just two months away from a start to the season that apparently will likely be on-time.  Although the nuances of this terrible pandemic that we’re dealing with have disrupted many timelines, the NFL has been virtually uninterrupted with the exception of the offseason training program.

But not much money is made during the offseason and it’s during when the bright lights are on when it’s GO time where the revenue dollars start flowing in as if they were going out of style.  Yes, this will have some sort of an impact on the readiness of teams — particularly our Houston Texans — as well as the rookies who are trying to develop themselves into professionals.

Virtual workouts/team meetings are fine but it all comes down with the actual interaction with the coaches as well as their teammates to learn from each to get better out on the field.  It’s natural for us to all learn from each other.

That’s not going to happen for the time being — healthy players are barred from entering team facilities — just those who are receiving treatment for injuries and it’s hopeful that training camp will begin at the end of this month.  Instead of the usual staggered start, the NFL wants all teams to start together and they will be training in their home markets this season.

This won’t be much of a transition for the Houston Texans as they decided last season to move training camp back to H-Town, after two seasons at The Greenbrier, a high-end, luxury resort in South Carolina.

But there have been questions about what the Houston Texans will do business-wise to alleviate their customer’s — the fans — concerns about a season that could likely take place with them not being able to access NRG Stadium.

So how will fans be able to see stars like Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, Brandin Cooks, Laremy Tunsil, Justin Reid among many others?

The Houston Texans recently made an announcement to all season-ticket holders via e-mail on what they plan to do to alleviate those qualms of fans having such a large financial commitment when there’s no certainty if they’ll be able to redeem they’ve paid for.

They’ve offered two options:

  1.  A season-ticket holder is entitled to a full refund of their tickets for the 2020 season and are automatically eligible to defer their status for 2021.
  2. Those who want to retain their tickets for 2020 will have further details shared on how they can redeem their tickets — the NFL is still working those nuances out — so once the green light is given, they’ll be able to attend games.  No action has to be taken if this is the option they select.

Those who own the heavily-lucrative personal seat licenses will continue those rights all the way through next season and any payments already made could be applied toward their 2021 payment if they should choose not to opt for the refund.

Fans who decide to ride out the 2020 season will be given a 10 percent credit toward food, soft drinks and merchandise at the stadium as well.

I would envision that the entire season will either not have any fans at all or a limited amount to stay in lockstep with social-distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With fewer fans being able to gain access to the stadium, how would they prioritize those who could enter and who cannot?

They certainly could conduct a lottery that determines seats/games they could attend or even have fans attend alternating games to ensure everybody gets to do so.

But one thing’s for sure, they cannot place priority based off of how much fans are spending on seats.  This pandemic has affected us all in some way and an egalitarian approach has to be taken to ensure it’s a fair process for access with everybody involved.

This is what leads me to the conclusion as to why the Houston Texans are deciding to do this now.

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They want to see how many people are going to opt-out so they can have an idea of how still wants to attend games.

If enough people opt-out, the situation could be easier to manage — a full refund is an attractive option and there are no strings attached — with fewer fans being apt to want to attend a game in the stadium and they may be able to attend every game they paid for.

But if not, it gets complicated because additional refunds/credits may have to be made for games fans are unable to attend because of the temporary capacity limits that would be placed to stay in step with public health guidelines.

The easier route would be just to not let fans in at all and punt that notion to 2021 but you at least have to give the Houston Texans some credit for wanting to listen to those fans who want to be there, under a roof that will likely remain open for the entire season.

Next. Texans: Canceling preseason will be of benefit to the team. dark

In related news, the franchise does plan to place a tarp over the first few rows of seats to allow additional distancing between fans/players and will make up for lost revenue by selling precious advertising space over the tarp to which I think is a brilliant yet lucrative idea.