A Soccer Team Stopped Charging for Tickets. Should Others Do the Same?

Neither Paris F.C. nor St.-Étienne will have much reason to remember the game fondly. There was, really, precious little to remember at all: no goals, few shots, little drama — a drab, rain-sodden stalemate between the French capital’s third-most successful soccer team and the country’s sleepiest giant.

That was on the field. Off it, the 17,000 or so fans in attendance can consider themselves part of a philosophical exercise that might play a role in shaping the future of the world’s most popular sport.

Last November, Paris F.C. became home to an unlikely revolution by announcing that it was doing away with ticket prices for the rest of the season. There were a couple of exceptions: a nominal fee for fans supporting the visiting team, and market rates for those using hospitality suites.

Everyone else, however, could come to the Stade Charléty — the compact stadium that Paris F.C. rents from the city government — free.

In doing so, the club began what amounts to a live-action experiment examining some of the most profound issues affecting sports in the digital age: the relationship between cost and value; the connection between fans and their local teams; and, most important, what it is to attend an event at a time when sports are just another arm of the entertainment industry.

When Paris F.C. made its tickets free in November, it did so with a few exceptions: fans supporting the visiting team and those using hospitality suites still have to pay.Credit…Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times
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