THE MOST IMPORTANT NUMBERS : The Right Price Is the Ticket to Success for Sports Teams

Times Staff Writer

As the action unfolded on the field one recent night at Dodger Stadium, Robson DuFau gathered his family on the concourse behind the last row of the top deck.

He adjusted the new Dodger cap on the head of his 2-year-old son, Robson Jr., while his wife, Tori, chased down their 6-year-old son, David, who was getting a head start on soiling his new batting glove.

The DuFaus hadn't been to a game in several years, they said, so on this night they planned to spend, spend, spend for the home team.

"We'll buy a little of everything," Tori said.

As they spoke with a reporter in the first inning, they had already spent $22. "And we haven't even sat down yet," Tori said.

They figured the night would cost them about $40.

That's not bad in this day and age.

In fact, considering that the average price of a Raider ticket is $22.40, the average price of a Laker ticket is more than $18 and every seat in the Coliseum for the USC-UCLA football game next fall will go for $22, the DuFaus got off easy.

Among major professional team sports, baseball remains the best buy in Los Angeles.

A family of four, provided both kids are under 12, can spend an evening at Dodger Stadium for $27. That figure includes two $4 general admission tickets for the parents, two half-price general admission tickets for the kids, parking, four hot dogs, two beers and two soft drinks.

At an Angel game, where there are no kids' tickets but general admission tickets go for $3, the same evening would cost a family of four $25.50. Parking, at $3, is $1 more at Anaheim Stadium, but the hot dogs and beer cost a little less.

Baseball tickets, in general, are among the lowest priced in professional sports. And, even by baseball standards, Dodger and Angel ticket prices are low. According to a study conducted by the Dodgers, the average price of an Angel ticket is $6.10, and the average price of a Dodger ticket is $6.15.

Only three teams--the Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos--offer lower average ticket prices.

The average ticket price at Fenway Park in Boston--where field-box seats go for $14--is $9.48, the highest in baseball. That's 48 cents more than the Dodgers charge for their highest-priced seats, and $1.48 more than the Angels charge for their best seats.

Even at the Red Sox prices, though, baseball would be a good buy compared to other mass-appeal sports in Los Angeles.

Based on figures provided by the teams:

--The average price of a Ram ticket, excluding the luxury suites, will be about $19.70 next season, with only about 1,000 of the 69,007 seats at Anaheim Stadium selling for less than $15.

--The Rams and the Raiders, who will sell 70,943 of the Coliseum's 92,516 seats for $20 or more next season, are prohibited from discounting tickets by National Football League rules.

--More than half of the 17,505 seats used for Laker games at the Forum are sold for $14.50 or more, including 128 courtside seats that go for $150 each. But the Lakers also offer 8,225 seats for $9.50 or less, with tickets in the $9.50- and $7-sections going to students, senior citizens and military for $5 each.

--The average price of a Clipper ticket is about $13.80, including 268 seats that sell for $55 each. But the Clippers sell 10,479 of the Sports Arena's 15,181 seats for $12 or less and also offer a $5 ticket to students, senior citizens and military.

--The Kings, whose average ticket price is about $13.65, offer 8,630 of the Forum's 16,005 hockey seats for $11.50 or less, with tickets in the lowest-priced, $7-section available to students, senior citizens and military for $5.

--General admission for UCLA football games at the Rose Bowl is $7 for adults and $3 for kids. For USC games at the Coliseum, it's $8 for adults and $2 for kids.

--UCLA offers no discounted tickets to the general public for its basketball games at Pauley Pavilion. USC makes about 60% of the Sports Arena's seats available at $3 for adults and $1.50 for kids under 12.

Major league baseball can keep its prices down, of course, because each team plays 81 home games, twice as many as National Basketball Assn. and National Hockey League teams and more than 10 times as many as NFL or college football teams.

"If we played once a week, that would be something else," said Tom Seeberg, Angel vice president. "We'd take another look at it. But when you play 81 games, you want repeat business."

Still, the Dodgers and Angels, who between them have drawn more than 5 million fans each of the last eight non-strike seasons, probably could charge more for their tickets.

"Just the sheer number of people who come through here allows us to keep the prices down," said Barry Stockhamer, director of ticket marketing and promotions for the Dodgers. "Also, baseball is very family-oriented, and I think the prices reflect that."

The Lakers also try to cater to families--to an extent.

Although most of the prime seats are sold in season-ticket packages, owner Jerry Buss keeps the prices down on the rest, a Forum spokesman said, to make the games affordable to the general public.

"He always says he'd like the tickets to be priced so that it's as inexpensive as going to a movie," said Steve Chase, director of marketing for the Forum.

Of course, a family wanting to take in a Laker game without breaking the bank must also be a family willing to climb a lot of stairs.

Discounting tickets is not an option for NFL teams. An NFL spokesman, Dick Maxwell, said the league doesn't believe that it needs to offer cut-rate prices.

"We sold about 90% of our seats during the regular season last year," Maxwell said.

Under the NFL's revenue-sharing agreement, 40% of the gate receipts, not including the rental fees from luxury suites, goes to the visiting team, the highest percentage in professional sports.

None of the gate goes to the visiting team in the National Basketball Assn. or National Hockey League.

In baseball, 20% of the gate goes to the visitors in the American League, whereas in the National League, the visitors receive 54 cents for each paid admission.

The Raiders, who play in a stadium with no luxury suites and the league's largest capacity, do more selling than most teams. Because they play so many fewer games, they take a different approach than the Lakers or Dodgers.

"We think that, unlike a baseball game or a basketball game, a Raider game is an event," said Mike Ornstein, the team's director of marketing and promotions.

And their prices, which are more in line with such once-a-year events as the Long Beach Grand Prix or the Rose Bowl than with the Angels or Dodgers, reflect that.

The UCLA basketball team also markets its games as events, to the extent that tickets for the Bruins' games last season against their four most prestigious opponents--North Carolina, Louisville, USC and Notre Dame--sold for $4 more than tickets to games against the nine least attractive opponents on their schedule, which went for $11 in the arena and loge levels and $9 in the upper level.

Tickets for four other games--against Cal, Oregon State, Washington and Arizona--were priced right in the middle, at $13 and $11.

"We just feel some of those games are much more attractive than the others," said Jim Milhorn, associate athletic director at UCLA. "It's basically what the market will bear."

MOTOR RACING LONG BEACH GRAND PRIX Tickets General admission: $25 to $75 (three-day pass) Sun. only: $20 to $35 Garage pass: $10 (in addition to admission) Parking: $20 TIMES GRAND PRIX OF ENDURANCE Tickets Reserved: $10 to $12 Sun. only: $12 in advance; $15 day of race Three-day pass: $30 (general admission) Fri. general admission: $5 (pit pass: $5) Sat. general admission: $9 (pit pass: $10) Roving grandstands: $8 (pit pass: $10) Parking: $10 (overnight) MICKEY THOMPSON OFF-ROAD GRAN PRIX/Rose Bowl Tickets $12-$21 (under 10: half price) Parking: Free (VIP: $5) WINSTON WESTERN 500 Tickets Sunday only: $18 to $35 Thur.-Sat.: $10 Parking: Free ($12 overnight) BUDWEISER 400 Tickets $18 to $33 Parking: Free ($12 overnight) NHRA WINSTON SERIES WINTERNATOINALS/ L.A. County Fairgrounds Tickets $10 to $40 Parking: $2 SUPERCROSS (Stadium Motocross)/ Anaheim Stadium, Coliseum Tickets Anaheim Stadium: $10 to $19 Coliseum: $9 to $18 Parking: $3 ASCOT PARK Tickets Thursday (Speedway)--Adults: $7 (general admission); 12 & under: $3 Friday (Motocross)--Adults: $7 (general); 8 & under: $3 Saturday (Sprint cars)--Adults: $8.50; 13-17: $4.50; 9-12: $1; 8 & under: Free Sunday (Stock cars)--Adults: $6.50, 13-17: $4, 9-12: $1; 8 & under: Free Midget Autos: $7.00 AMA Grand National Series--Reserved: $17 (12 & under, $8.50) General: $15 (12 & under, $7.50) World of Outlaw Sprint Cars (Two stops: Feb. & Oct.)--Reserved: $20; General: 17.50; 12 & under: half price. Parking: $2 TENNIS VIRGINIA SLIMS TENNIS/Manhattan Country Club Tickets Mon.-Fri.: $12 to $15 Sat. & Sun.: $15 Parking: $2 to $3 (Sunday) FORUM TENNIS Tickets $7.50 to $50 Parking: $4 VOLVO TENNIS/L.A. Tennis Center Tickets Box: Mon.-Wed.: $20; Th.-Fr.: $25; Sat.-Sun: $30 Loge: $10; $15; $20 Stadium: $8; $10; $15 Grandstands: $6; $8; $12 Parking: $3 PILOT PEN TENNIS/Indian Wells Tickets Terrace Tables: $2,000 Box: $1,100 to $1,200 (entire tournament) Loge: $15 to $35 Bleachers: $10 to $20 Parking: Free BASKETBALL LAKERS/ Forum Tickets $7 to $150 Parking--$4 CLIPPERS/Sports Arena Tickets Courtside: $55; Boxes: $30 Reserved: $8 to $20 Senior citizens (65 and over) Military & children: $5. Parking: $2 USC BASKETBALL/Sports Arena Tickets Preferred: $7; Reserved: $5; General Admission: $3; Under 12: $1.50 Parking: $3 UCLA BASKETBALL Tickets $9 to $15 ($3 to $5 for intrasquad games) Parking: $3 UC IRVINE BASKETBALL Tickets Adults: $9 Students: $2. Parking: Free PEPPERDINE BASKETBALL Tickets Adults: $6 Students: $3 Children under 5: Free Parking: Free CS FULLERTON FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL Tickets Adults: $8 Students & under 18: $3 Parking: Free CS LONG BEACH FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL Tickets Reserved Adults: $8 General Admission (adults): $6 General Admission (students): $4 Parking: $1 HOCKEY KINGS/ Forum Tickets $7 to $40 Student: $5 Parking: $4 BASEBALL DODGERS/ Dodger Stadium Tickets $4 to $9 Children under 12: $2 Parking: $2 ANGELS/ Anaheim Stadium Tickets $3 to $8 Parking: $3 SOCCER LAZERS/ Forum Tickets $8 to $18 Under 17: Half price Parking: $4 FOOTBALL RAIDERS/Coliseum Tickets $13 to $28 Parking: $10 to $25 RAMS/ Anaheim Stadium Tickets $10 to $21 Parking: $5 UCLA FOOTBALL/Rose Bowl Tickets Reserved: $16 General Admission (adults): $7 (15 & under): $3 Family plan (entire season): $8 each; Groups of 25: $8 each reserved Parking: Free USC FOOTBALL/Coliseum Tickets Reserved: $16 General Admission (Adults): $8 (Children): $2 UCLA game: $22 Parking: $3 ROSE BOWL GAME Tickets $36 (mandated by NCAA) Parking: Free. BOXING COUNTRY CLUB BOXING/ Reseda Tickets $10 to $30 Parking: Free FORUM BOXING Tickets $20 to $40 Parking: $4 IRVINE MARRIOTT BOXING Tickets $17.50 to $27.50 Parking: Free GOLF LA OPEN Tickets $14 (tournament pass: $40) 18 & under: $7 Parking: $5 weekdays; $7 weekends BOB HOPE/CHRYSLER GOLF Tickets Tournament Pass: $75 General Admission: $15 Students: $2 12 & under: Free Parking: Free GTE SENIORS GOLF/WOOD RANCH (Simi Valley) Tickets Thur.: $8 Fri-Sun.: $10 Parking: Free VINTAGE CHRYSLER INVITATIONAL/Indian Wells Tickets Clubhouse badge: $100 Tournament pass: $30 (Seniors citizens, $25) General: $8 to $12 (senior citizens, $7 to $10) Parking: Free GNA TOURNAMENT/Oakmont CC Glendale Tickets Tournament pass: $35 or 2 for the price of 1 up to 5 weeks before event General: $10 to $12 Parking: Free TRACK & FIELD TIMES INDOOR GAMES Tickets $2 to $17 Parking: $4 SUNKIST INVITATIONAL Tickets $7 to $16 Parking: $3 PEPSI INVITATIONAL Tickets $4 to $16 Parking: $3 HORSE RACING SANTA ANITA Tickets $2.75 Clubhouse: $6 Parking: $2 Preferred: $4 Valet: $7 LOS ALAMITOS Tickets $2.25 Clubhouse: $4 Parking: $1.50 Preferred: $3 FAIRPLEX PARK/ POMONA Tickets $2.50 + $2 for box seat Clubhouse: $5 18 & under free w/ adult Parking: $2 Valet: $6. HOLLYWOOD PARK Tickets Grandstand: $2.75 Clubhouse: $6 Pavilion: $7 Parking: $2 Preferred: $4 Valet: $7

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