The National Football League plans to begin sending cheerleaders into the stands at games as part of a partnership with an app developer promising in-seat visits to fans.
NFL cheerleaders, some making less than $5 an hour, are currently fighting the league for better pay.
The NFL has partnered with Experience to offer new ways to make going to games more fun for fans. The app lets fans meet cheerleaders, upgrade their seats, and even gain access to the field before the game.
In January, Oakland Raiderette Lacy T brought a suit against the NFL on behalf of the entire squad.
She says given the practice hours, charitable appearances, and the annual swimsuit calendar photo shoot on top of the 10-game commitment, she makes only $1,250 per year. That’s less than $5 an hour, which is $3 below the state minimum.
Cheerleaders pay their own travel expenses and buy the mandated cosmetics for their appearances. They can be fined for wearing the wrong piece of clothing or shade of fake tan.
Now they can tack on stand appearances to the list.
The Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks already used the Experience app last season.
Atlanta said it sold about 800 “experiences” per game to their season ticket-holders.
“Anything from pregame on-field, to a birthday message, to cheerleader visits, to mascot visits, to the fly-by pass, which is a dedicated lane where you don’t wait to get into the stadium,” Jim Smith, the Falcons' chief marketing officer, told Sports Business Journal. “All the experiential things sold out within the first four hours they were made available.”
The cheerleaders are instrumental in generating revenue for the NFL, which brings in $3.1 billion between now and 2022, according to The Guardian.