Despite the current player lockout and ongoing labor negotiations, the National Football League (NFL) has started the process of releasing the pre-season football schedule.  The dates for 11 nationally televised games have been set; each of these games will kick off at 8:00 PM ET.

Each year the NFL pre-season schedule begins with the Hall of Fame game.  This year the contest will feature the Chicago Bears playing the St. Louis Rams in Canton, OH on Sunday, August 7th.  A few notable games include cross-state rivals Philadelphia and Pittsburgh meeting on August 18th, and next-door neighbors Washington and Baltimore playing on August 25th.  Games continue through September 2nd.

The NFL has determined the location and matchups for each weekend, allowing arrangements to be made by fans that travel to games.  The actual dates, along with the regular season schedule, will be released later this month.

The pre-season offers a unique opportunity for fans to attend games.  According to Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal, “the premium-level seats and such are not selling well.  The thing to remember with those, though, are a lot of those do not count towards the blackout rules.”  According to USA TODAY, the average ticket to an NFL game during the 2010 season was $76.46; the total cost for a family of four was $420.

In 2010, 26 of the 32 NFL teams sold at least 90% of the tickets to their home games.  Based on the aforementioned NFL blackout rules, these games would generally be considered “sold out.”  Tickets to these games can be quite expensive on the secondary ticket market.  Ticket prices are significantly lower for the pre-season, though, as many fans opt to skip exhibition games.  Depending on the stadium, tickets can sell for $10 or less through ticket brokers.

For fans wanting the experience of attending a game, but concerned with the cost, pre-season games offer a unique opportunity.  Fans can enjoy a day out in their home town, or plan a summer vacation with the added bonus of seeing their favorite team play in a different stadium.

The weekend schedules can be found at