$212.46 for a baseball game? Too rich for this fan’s blood.
I was 8 years old in the summer of 1966, which was about the time I discovered that professional baseball was something I could follow in the daily newspaper. There were standings, all those box scores and statistics to pore over and, as an East Coaster, the revelation that baseball games on the West Coast happened later and thus were subject to the abbreviation “inc” on the list of the previous days’ results.
That was also the year I became a Baltimore Orioles fan, due in no small part to the team’s tremendous season and the 4-0 shellacking they gave the Los Angeles Dodgers in the best-of-seven World Series that fall (sorry about that, Los Angeles).
I’ve been a baseball fan ever since, and for about three decades, whenever I had time while on the road in a city with a Major League Baseball franchise, I’d try to take in a game.
But that impulse faded with the steady increase in the cost of going to a game, which the folks at Team Marketing Report said last month has risen for yet another season. Last year, my wife, who is also a big baseball fan, and I attended only two major league games, one in Detroit and the other in San Diego. Both were part of vacations, when we tend to keep a little looser grasp on the wallet. We also try to take in minor league games when we travel. But it’s been years since we attended an Angels or Dodgers game, the two stadiums within driving distance. And it’s purely because of cost.
The average Major League Baseball ticket price for the current season is $27.93, up 2% from 2013, according to Team Marketing Report’s annual roundup. The average for the Dodgers and the Angels is a little below that, but not by much. Seats are cheaper overlooking the outfield, the least desirable spot for most fans. A lower-level seat overlooking the infield, closer to the action, can run $100 or more.
The cost adds up quickly. Across the league, the tab for a four-person outing was $212.46 in 2013, a “fan price index” that Team Marketing Report measures as the cost of four adult average-price tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, parking, a couple of game programs and two adult-size adjustable hats. All but the hats are pretty standard purchases for a family of four taking in a game. And note that the index is higher than a weekly grocery bill for a family of four.
There’s something depressing about the fact that “the national pastime” has become too expensive for the average person to take part in, and that it is now more a symbol of the nation’s growing class divide. Although it’s not just baseball; price out the cost of attending any top-tier professional sport.
At least we can watch games on television. Well, unless you’re a Dodgers’ fan after the team created its own cable channel, which only Time Warner Cable has decided to pay the freight to carry. And, of course, you have to subscribe to cable in the first place. Relatively few major league games — or other pro sports — are broadcast over the airwaves anymore, another effect of the obscene monetization of spectator sports.
This frustration over the cost of attending a baseball game is not mine alone. Team Marketing Report also tracks annual Major League Baseball attendance, which hit 79.5 million fans in 2007 but then, with the onset of the Great Recession, dropped to 73 million in 2010 before rebounding to slightly more than 74 million last year.
If the rebound continues this year, it likely won’t include us, in part because the major league schedules don’t coincide with our travels. Though we are going to be visiting Colorado Springs, Colo., and Albuquerque soon. Both have triple-A minor league franchises — the Sky Sox and the Isotopes, respectively — with ticket prices less than half the major league average, for better seats and access to cheaper beer and hot dogs.
Though I have to say, ordering an Isotope dog doesn’t quite have the same ring as a Dodger dog. But I can live with that.
Follow Scott Martelle on Twitter @smartelle
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