Over the years, many people have viewed the world of sports as recession-proof, though few could have envisioned the economic crisis that the U.S. has experienced in recent weeks. Now sports leagues and organizations are being forced to make tougher decisions in order to keep up their bottom line.
Those leagues and franchises are looking to save money in the upcoming months through multiple avenues. One way will be to freeze or even lower ticket prices in hopes of maintaining affordability for fans to continue attending their games. According to Bloomberg, prior to the start of the World Series, the San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds had all announced they had frozen the cost of tickets for next season. A week later, the Houston Astros announced they would be freezing ticket prices as well.
“We felt it was important to keep ticket prices at the same level for our fans,” said Astros Chairman and CEO Drayton McLane said in a statement. “The economy has put a strain on this community and the nation, and the support of our tremendous fan base is critical to our success. Houston has become a baseball town because of the passion and intensity of Astros fans. During this difficult economic time, we believe that freezing ticket prices is a way that we can help ease the burden while allowing our fans to continue to attend games at Minute Maid Park and cheer on their favorite team.”
In only its second season at their new ballpark, the Washington Nationals announced they would be lowering prices on tickets in certain sections. As will the two California baseball teams, the Oakland A’s and San Diego Padres.
In the NBA, Commissioner David Stern announced that the league would be laying off about 80 employees to help counteract financial losses.
NBA Hall of Fame player Charles Barkley recently implored teams to freeze their ticket prices, as well as other promotions, to keep fans happy and coming to games.
“You have to be realistic. Clearly we’re in a tough economic situation,” Barkley said to Bloomberg Radio. “If the owners had any smarts they’d say, ‘We’re not going to raise season tickets and we’re going to put a freeze on tickets for this year and probably next year because this thing is going to take more than a couple months to fix.'”
In addition to the prospects of slowing ticket sales, many are predicting teams to be looking to dump bad player contracts, rather than signing big name free agents to large contracts.
“We’re not just competing for people’s entertainment dollars anymore,” said Brett Yormark, chief executive of the New Jersey Nets, told the Wall Street Journal. “We’re going up against milk and orange juice.”