Sports

Dodgers raise the price on every season ticket (and parking too)

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Dodgers fans celebrate after after a 6-5 win against the Washington Nationals in Game 4 of the National League division series Oct. 11.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Dodgers raised the price on every season ticket Thursday, stunning some fans hit with double-digit increases for a second consecutive year.

The Dodgers also increased parking prices for season-ticket holders by as much as 27%.

In each of the four full seasons under the ownership of Guggenheim Baseball Management, the Dodgers have won the National League West and led the major leagues in tickets sold. The Dodgers have capped season sales at 35,000 tickets and expect to hit that level again next year, said David Siegel, vice president of ticket sales.

The Dodgers also have led the majors in payroll the last three seasons, although they are expected to cut that number for a second consecutive year. Ticket prices are a function of supply and demand, not player salaries.

Siegel would not discuss the range of price hikes nor say whether the team had cost increases this year that would justify a sharp increase in ticket prices next year. However, in addition to record payrolls, he noted that ownership has invested more than $200 million into stadium upgrades, including a new sound system, scoreboards and wi-fi.

“We believe in the value of the game and the in-game experience,” Siegel said. “That’s what we’re going to rest on.”

The Dodgers raised the price of the cheapest season seat — on the reserved level, by the foul poles — to $11 per game, an increase of 120% over two years.

Heidi Chambers, 33, the vice president of an Internet marketing company, said the price of her seats in the front row of the left-field pavilion has increased 74% in two years.

“It’s not like where I sit has increased in any way,” she said. “I sit on a wooden plank in the outfield.”

Chambers is one of many fans hit by a double whammy: a price increase in general, and the fragmenting of sections — in her case, the price of a front-row seat has jumped more steeply than the price of a seat in the row behind her.

For instance, what was called a “preferred box seat” in the 2015 season was sold on a season basis for $25 per game. That section is now divided into 12 categories, sold on a season basis for $29 to $48 per game.

For the 2015 season, the Dodgers listed 25 ticket categories. For the 2017 season, the team listed 84 ticket categories, according to the price list sent Thursday to season-ticket holders.

Chambers said she generally gives the Guggenheim ownership high marks over the previous McCourt ownership, in particular for increasing communication with fans and providing loyalty rewards. She said she does not plan to give up her seats, because she probably would not be able to get them back given the waiting list, and she understands the Dodgers — like other sports teams — raise prices just about every year.

“I just don’t know that it warrants the kind of big jumps season over season,” she said. “We haven’t won a league championship series. We haven’t won a World Series. If that had happened, I would be more understanding.”

Bill Snoberger, 59, an equipment manager for a manufacturing company, said the price of his top-deck seats has doubled under Guggenheim ownership, including a 20% increase for next season.

“I knew it was going to go up,” he said. “I had no idea it was going to go up in one fell swoop.”

He said he plans to keep his seats, but said he spoke Thursday with a friend that plans to drop two of his four top-deck season seats and another friend that plans to cancel her loge-level seats and buy tickets to individual games instead.

Snoberger said fans could find thousands of seats available on StubHub and other resale sites for many games last season.

The Dodgers have the largest stadium in the majors, with capacity of about 54,000. When the Dodgers would announce they had sold upward of 40,000 tickets, he said, he would note that the Dodger Stadium crowd would appear far smaller.

“As Chick Hearn said, a lot of the people came dressed as empty seats,” Snoberger said. “The secondary market is terrible for a seller but incredibly good for a buyer.”

Siegel said the Dodgers monitor the resale market. He said they are confident their season-ticket holders find value in prices discounted from the single-game rate and such perks as early access to the ballpark, the option to buy postseason tickets, and invitations to special events.

 “We have the most faithful and loyal fans in all of sports,” Siegel said. “We’ll continue to put a great product on the field and off the field for them.”

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin

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