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Catering To The Haves More Important Than Ever Before

I know. It’s insensitive. But it’s the reality.

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Photo: Brian Rovell

Because there are more people now who can’t afford tickets to a game—or at least say that tickets would make up to too large of a percentage of their total income—teams have had to cater to the people who are raking in money during these hard times.

When everything was good, who cared who came to games? Cash was cash. But not anymore. You not only have to work harder for the people who bought the luxury boxes, but you have to work harder to score future revenue through ritzy sampling.

Case in point, the Jets Green Room, where I spent the majority of my night last night as the team played the Vikings in the New Meadowlands Stadium.

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Photo: Brian Rovell

The Green Room is a place that the Jets have set aside to wine and dine celebrities as well as the movers and shakers who aren’t as easily recognizable. Sure, some sponsors get some tickets to the room, but there aren’t many average Joes who get silk Tiffany wristbands (Tiffany sponsors the room).

The idea is to make top executives comfortable in the environment and also get them to sample enough that they’ll buy tickets.

Building out the room was first—overseen by Thad Sheely, the Jets executive vice president of stadium development and finance. Think W Hotel-like furniture and bar scene inside a stadium.

Then, comes the all-important cultivating of that celeb list. For that, Matt Higgins , the Jets’ executive vice president of business operations, tapped Steve Millington, general manager at Michael’s, the midtown Manhattan power lunch establishment. The food? Overseen byDrew Nieporent of Myriad,which owns Tribeca Grill & Nobu, among others.

"What I thought was remarkable was the way the Jets staff walked to the front of the room and when someone came in, they immediately knew the name of the business person as if they were given a roster they had to memorize,"

So there I was watching Mitch Modell of Modell’s hobnob with the chairman and CEO of J. Crew,Mickey Drexler. Chris Rock talking to SNL’s Bobby Moynihan. Jordin Sparks from "American Idol" and Spike Lee—dressed to the hilt in retro Jets gear of course—sipping drinks.

What I thought was remarkable was the way the Jets staff walked to the front of the room and when someone came in, they immediately knew the name of the business person as if they were given a roster they had to memorize. Special service means more these days and I guess that’s part of the business that has changed among the most wealthy.

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Photo: Brian Rovell

That service also means more than a hello and welcome to the Green Room. I watched as those Jets staff members stayed with the guests and introduced them to other high-powered people they never met. Do a business deal, pay back the Jets by buying tickets? Hey, it could happen.

To be fair, I also think the Jets can only do so much in the stands. Part of whether a well-heeled person, who doesn’t already have tickets, wants is to be where the action is. Since the Jets share a stadium with the Giants, that might come down to which team is better on the field.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com