Will baseball fans’ complaints that the cost of going to a major league game these days keep them away from the stadium this year? With the season openers just days away, that’s the $64 question following the release of a new Associated Press poll of 719 professed Major League Baseball (MLB) fans. One of the 17 questions was, “What is baseball’s biggest problem?” Given four choices – players make too much, steroids/other drugs, games too long – 45 percent chose the fourth: “It costs too much to attend a game.”
When much of America is tightening its collective economic belt, the result is not surprising.
That 45 percent compares to 29 percent of fans who didn’t like player salaries, and 19 percent who have a problem with the steroid issue. Player salaries led the complaint list in AP surveys in 2005 and 2006.
The poll results showed that 18 percent of the fans surveyed attended five or more games last year, with 76 percent going to three or less.
The poll, conducted by Knowledge Networks, showed that of those that went to at least one game last year, 21 percent said they were “very likely” to go to a game and 25 percent “somewhat likely.” The remaining 54 percent claimed “not too likely” (23 percent) or “not at all likely” (31 percent).
According to AP, which referenced Team Marketing Report, a publisher of marketing and sponsorship information, the average ticket price in the majors last year was $25.43, a figure up almost 12 percent from 2007. At first blush, that seems pretty reasonable. Except that it does not account for parking and concessions. Reportedly, it will cost a fan $18 just to park at the New York Mets new stadium, Citi Field, not forgetting the very expensive beer and hotdogs.
It should be noted that the MLB office said that two-thirds of the teams lowered either their average ticket price or some level of seats.
The new survey asked fans to compare the cost of attending an MLB game with other forms of entertainment: 30 percent said it was fairly comparable, 31 percent said it was a lot more expensive, and 27 percent said it was a little more expensive.
It’s the ticket prices of the big-market teams that are trotted out when the high-cost syndrome is examined. The AP story reported that “a [New York] Yankee ticket in the lower deck between the bases [at the new stadium] goes for a minimum of $350.” But for the Pittsburgh Pirates, comparable single-game seats are $27 to $35, while the Texas Rangers charge $65 to $80. The Toronto Blue Jays offered an 81-game season ticket in the upper deck for $76, and even a relatively high profile small market team, the Cleveland Indians, charge $19 to $70.