The Milwaukee Brewers’ decision to freeze ticket prices for 2011 is indeed a response to the team’s struggles at the field and at the...

The Milwaukee Brewers’ decision to freeze ticket prices for 2011 is indeed a response to the team’s struggles at the field and at the gate in 2010. But the gesture is intended less as bait to lure back those who left and more as a reward to those who stayed.

The Brewers, who announced the freezing of ticket prices Monday, October 11, finished 77-85 this year and drew 3,221 fewer fans per game (34,278) than last year (37,499), the fourth-biggest drop in Major League Baseball. But the attendance figures came as good news to Brewers executives, who were pleased to maintain most of the gains the franchise enjoyed as it emerged as a contender from 2004 through 2008 and to still draw 2,776,531 to Miller Park during a losing season in the smallest market in Major League Baseball.

“To be drawing almost 2.8 million fans a.) in this economy and b.) with the team not having a really strong year on the field, is a phenomenal number regardless of market,” Brewers spokesman Tyler Barnes told TicketNews. “And certainly [so] in a market the size of Milwaukee. We were absolutely thrilled with the result.”

Tickets at Miller Park next year will once again range from $8 for the cheapest Terrace Level seat to $50 for the priciest Field Level seat. According to Team Marketing Report, the Brewers had the eighth-lowest average ticket price in Major League Baseball last year at $22.10, but Barnes said many of the Brewers’ group sales deals will allow fans to pay even less than that for a seat.

“The average ticket price doesn’t factor in all the other special deals that are out there through family packages, discounts through corporate partners — there are any number of ways you can save off even that ticket price,” Barnes said. “We realize it’s critical to give people an opportunity to buy tickets at an affordable price and to be able to continue to come out on multiple occasions.”

The Brewers’ attendance peaked at 3,068,458 in 2008, when the club snapped a 26-year playoff drought by clinching the NL wild card on the final day of the season, before falling slightly by 383 fans per game last year. But even this year’s final tally was still the fifth-highest in the 10-year history of Miller Park and represented an improvement of more than a million fans over the 1,700,354 fans who strolled through the gates in 2003, a year after the Brewers lost a franchise-record 106 games.

“It’s been a slow build,” Barnes said. “There had been a prolonged drought without playoff baseball and I think people could see that a lot of the pieces were in place.”

The Brewers aren’t the only sub-.500 NL Central team taking a unique approach ticketing in 2011. While the Chicago Cubs will unveil a new higher priced tier for 13 high-demand games, the average price to the remaining 68 games will drop by eight percent. The Cubs, whose average ticket price of $52.83 was the highest in baseball this season, will be offering nearly twice as many tickets at $20 or less (17 percent) as this year (9.6 percent).