MLB needs to make going to a game affordable again

For the past few decades, ticket prices have been rising across Major League Baseball. According to cnbc.com, the average cost to go to a big-league game this year was $83, and that’s just the price for the ticket alone. Ticket prices are up 3.3% this year, and trends show that it will continue to rise. If MLB and its franchises want to fill seats, they need to drop ticket prices and start making games affordable, and not a luxury.

Baseball is a family game. Throughout the stands you can see kids with their gloves on standing alongside their parents, enjoying a day at the park. But can this continue? Trends across baseball say no. With it costing, on average, $83 to get into the ballpark, there are still other costs it takes to go to a ballgame. Throw in a beverage, something to eat, and the cost of parking, and you’re spending about $120-$130 depending on what you get. That’s just per person, multiply that by four and that’s the average cost to take your family to a game. Now not everyone has $500 to spend on a day at the ballpark, and that is why attendance for 17 of Major League Baseball’s franchises went down from 2014 to 2015.

Yogi Berra once said, “If people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?” This rang true for Major League Baseball during the 2015 season. More fans did enter ballparks in 2015 — 162,221 more than 2014; but many of the franchises experienced a setback for attendance. While there are extremes on either end of the spectrum, it’s universal that if tickets were more affordable, more people would go to games.

Take the Kansas City Royals for example. In 2015, they saw 752,000 more fans in Kaufman Stadium, an average of about 9,5000 more fans per game than in 2014, while having the 24th-most expensive ticket in baseball at about $68. Looking at the other side, the Detroit Tigers had the second-most expensive ticket in baseball at $117 per ticket, and they saw 175,000 fewer fans in Comerica Park.

For those of you saying that those trends just show that the Royals are playing well and the Tigers weren’t, the St. Louis Cardinals saw a loss of 19,000 fans during the 2015 campaign, despite being baseball’s best regular season team. As for their average ticket price? It was $81, below the average and 14th on the list of most expensive tickets. Even the Miami Marlins, who finished 20 games under .500 and weren’t really contenders all year, finished with an attendance spike of 20,000 more, while the ticket price sat at $70, just barely ahead of the Royals.

Something has to change in order for Major League Baseball to draw more fans into ballparks. It won’t happen over the course of a year, but over time ticket prices can go down, while teams and the league both making a profit. Hopefully there will be a change soon and going to games won’t cost a fortune.

2 Responses

  1. Sam

    I like the reasoning here but the math just seems off. Many teams have seats that cost $12-20 per person so realistically you could easily see a game with food and parking for a family of 4 for less than $125.

    Reply
    • Sam

      The site linked also cites a cost more in the $225 range for a family of 4.

      Further, the secondary market is not governed by the MLB.

      Reply

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