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The regular people are in the 400s
October 9, 2009 1:09 PM   Subscribe

"It began with a photograph. You've seen it. The new Yankee Stadium. The House Next To The House That Ruth Built. The picture showed the most expensive seats empty, with the rest of the stadium packed." Wright Thompson shares his experience splurging on a Legend Suite seat at the new Yankee Stadium.

Yankees ticket prices over the years.

The Onion's take on the slashed ticket prices in May.
posted by yeti (71 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Double play?
posted by hermitosis at 1:13 PM on October 9, 2009


Sorry, I guess this was what I was thinking of.
posted by hermitosis at 1:20 PM on October 9, 2009


I hate to complement narrative sports journalism, but that's a pretty damn fine story.
posted by Damn That Television at 1:29 PM on October 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


By excluding 75 percent of the population from experiencing the best part of spectator sports -- actually holding a ticket in your hand -- franchises have created a potentially fatal problem for themselves. Luker predicts the future of sports by looking at the decline of soap operas. Once, there were 30. Now, because the audience changed, there are seven.

"We have the first true sustained evidence of less interest in sports than there was 10 years ago," he says. "It won't happen overnight. It will take a generation. But in general, sports will not be what it is today. We're burning out the love of sports."


It's a side issue, but I've been thinking along the same lines as televised sports slowly move behind cable paywalls. When I could reasonably expect to see most Timberwolves games on TV, I followed the team and actually went to a few games a year. Now that it's mostly cable, the team (and pro basketball) is pretty much off my radar. Big-picture, it's actually pretty interesting to me to watch the major sports leagues slowly kill themselves in search of maximizing short-term profits.
posted by COBRA! at 1:37 PM on October 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


Seconding DTT. Thanks for posting this.
posted by cog_nate at 1:38 PM on October 9, 2009


A teacher asks her students if they're Yankees fans. All of the hands go up except for one student. "Okay, Bobby. What team are you a fan of?"

"The Red Sox."

"Why's that?"

"Well, my parents are both Red Sox fans, so I'm a Red Sox fan too."

"That's not a good answer, Bobby. If your parents were both morons, would you be a moron too?"

"No, that would make me a Yankees fan."
posted by netbros at 1:48 PM on October 9, 2009 [33 favorites]


"We have the first true sustained evidence of less interest in sports than there was 10 years ago," he says. "It won't happen overnight. It will take a generation. But in general, sports will not be what it is today. We're burning out the love of sports."

If this is true, it is the most wonderful news I have heard in all my life.
posted by darksasami at 1:49 PM on October 9, 2009 [16 favorites]


I didn't plan on reading such a long article about a sport I don't really follow, but hell. I read every word. And I have to agree: there's a problem here. The pricing has really driven people out of nearly any sport you can think of. I have attended pro baseball games with friends, but I doubt I'll take my kid to one - too much money for one night. My wife and I love hockey, but we've never attended a pro game just college games, and those get expensive enough once you can't qualify for the student prices. I live in a city where I can attend a pro baseball, basketball, women's basketball, hockey, football, hell even soccer and lacrosse games - and after 3 years living here haven't gone to any of them. It's the same thing as concerts, really: The good seats are too expensive for most people, and are usually reserved ahead of time for special events, promotions, or pre-sold to people with money to burn. The cheap seats are still there, but they aren't good enough to justify the expense more than once in a while. The "real fans" end up staying home and watching it on TV.

The article made me sad, really. When they are driving out a family that has attended games for 85 years something is seriously wrong. When they can't see what the problem is, it's already too late.
posted by caution live frogs at 1:51 PM on October 9, 2009 [7 favorites]


> Big-picture, it's actually pretty interesting to me to watch the major sports leagues slowly kill themselves in search of maximizing short-term profits.

That pretty much sums up the history of human civilization.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:55 PM on October 9, 2009 [7 favorites]


Well written article.

What he doesn't really touch on, though, is the rise of the minor league teams. Here in Portland, we are home to the AA Red Sox franchise. All tickets are under $10, and there are very few bad seats in the house. Lately, we've been able to use the season tickets paid for by a friend's business, which are directly behind the 3rd base dugout. Even when those tickets aren't available, though, plenty of other great, close to the field seats are available at the pick up window, tickets that are part of season ticket packages but are unused that day or evening.

In this way, I've started to kindle in my son the love of the sport, and our team. When he's a little older, I'll spend a few hundred dollars on season "packages" of 8-10 games per season, and when he's a little older still I'll take him to a game at Fenway now and again. He'll know a lot of the players (and probably have their autographs) from seeing them come up through the AA team, but the Fenway experience will be very different -- and less personal -- than the Hadlock Field one. All in all, I'd rather go to Hadlock, frankly. For this middle class family, this is how we will continue to kindle the love of the game.
posted by anastasiav at 2:00 PM on October 9, 2009 [6 favorites]


Not NY, but Boston...Both the Celtics and the Bruins had a bunch of $10.00 tickets. Sure they were in the nose bleeds, but hey Ten Bucks to see the Celts or the Bs. Once the Bruins had some modicum of success they killed the ten buck seat. The cheapest regular Bruins ticket is $32.50, cheapest family seat is $30.00 for adults and $20.00 for kids (family of 4 = $100.00 plus soda). The Celtics still have a ten buck seat, limit two per purchase. Red Sox offer one roww of bleacher seats for $12.00 otherwise it is $26.00
posted by Gungho at 2:00 PM on October 9, 2009


If this is true, it is the most wonderful news I have heard in all my life.

If that's true, your life must really, really suck. I don't dispute that professional and crypto-professional college sports get vastly more attention than they deserve, but they are, at heart, entertainment, something we all need. Maybe you could begrudge those who find it there just a little less.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:03 PM on October 9, 2009 [17 favorites]


I had spent most of my childhood in New Haven, Ct. That city was just about dead center between Manhattan and Boston, and half the town were Yankee fans, the other have, Red Sox fans. Even in my family there was a split, so that I soon learned that one "choose" the team as a favorite that was closest to one's place of residence,though in my town, that caused the division.

But if ticket prices make this post a downer, then here is a boost!
An actual video (film) just discovered) of none other than--Babe Ruth

http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/08/a-ruthian-mystery/?scp=2&sq=babe%20ruth%20video&st=cse
posted by Postroad at 2:04 PM on October 9, 2009


I'm a sucker for good graphic design, and you really need to hold a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape to appreciate it, since the picture of it in this article does not du it justice. The bottle I have has that same label on it, but the same text is also on the label in braille. It's a thing of beauty really, and was quite good. I don't know shit about baseball though, but I do approve of this wine as a nice choice with a sausage.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:06 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you really want to enjoy a baseball game the "old-fashioned" way, go to a minor league game. Especially if it's triple-A, you get major league play for nowhere near major league prices. I was in Albuquerque this past summer and went to see the Isotopes (LA Dodgers triple-A club) in a nice modern stadium and sat behind home plate for $15. My total outlay for the whole game -- tickets, beer, food, parking, etc. -- was under $50.
posted by QuestionableSwami at 2:06 PM on October 9, 2009 [6 favorites]


An interesting article.

I'm snapped from my reverie by a question from my driver. He wants to know what my ticket cost. I'm embarrassed to tell him. Finally, after hemming and hawing, I come out with it, sort of. (I don't include the service fees.)

"$1,200," I say.

His head wheels around. He stares at me. I want to crawl under the seat. I don't know what a driver in New York makes a month, but I bet, after taxes, it's about what I'm spending to see a ballgame. I'm going to have to try to avoid reality checks from now on. My driver doesn't look jealous. He looks … disgusted.

"That is too much," he says. "You can buy food for two months."


Either New York is so much more expensive than Colorado as to be an entirely different galaxy or that driver has a wife and kids. I could buy food for myself for more than a year on $1200, and that's being generous. I have a very hard time imagining how you could spend that much more on a person. This isn't to say the driver's wrong; it's just to underline his point.
posted by koeselitz at 2:08 PM on October 9, 2009


I could buy food for myself for more than a year on $1200, and that's being generous.

Really? When I hit that line, I stopped and did some math, and figured that $1200 is very close to what my wife and I spend on food for 2 months. Buying at the less-fancy (no carpet) grocery stores in Minneapolis.
posted by COBRA! at 2:11 PM on October 9, 2009


Either New York is so much more expensive than Colorado as to be an entirely different galaxy or that driver has a wife and kids. I could buy food for myself for more than a year on $1200, and that's being generous. I have a very hard time imagining how you could spend that much more on a person. This isn't to say the driver's wrong; it's just to underline his point.

Both, I would imagine. That would feed my family for three months in the Bay Area if I were very, scrupulously careful. And when I put it into the context of "three people go to a ballgame, or I feed my family for a year", it is awfully disturbing.

Like I needed another reason to hate the Yankees in particular, or what has happened to professional sports in general, though.

I really did like this article though. I wasn't quite sure where it was going at first, but it went to exactly the place I needed it to go. Especially liked the little side trips into the lives of people with family connections to the team who can no longer afford their heritage as a way of showing how we've all been priced out of our national pastime.
posted by padraigin at 2:13 PM on October 9, 2009


QuestionableSwami: If you really want to enjoy a baseball game the "old-fashioned" way, go to a minor league game.

Yes, yes, yes, a million times yes! And, in my experience, an added bonus is that the games are more to watch and enjoy. You'll sit closer, you'll hear more, and the crowd will be a great sort of people, there to have fun on a summer night.

caution live frogs, we're looking at you! Your profile says you're Minneapolis, there must be some teams nearby for you.
posted by barnacles at 2:15 PM on October 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


Really good read.

Suddenly, I have this bizarre thought: I'm ruined. I can't imagine ever sitting in regular seats again.

I've attended a few "golden ticket" hospitality days at various sporting events - nowhere in the league of what the article describes, but still pretty damn decent - and I was bored by about the third. I wanted to leap the barrier and get back to the greasy burgers and be around the people with genuine passion for the sporting event I was attending.
posted by fire&wings at 2:18 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


A great read. Reflecting on it, I note that the author doesn't mention that the escalation of ticket prices seems to follow the same trajectory and timeline as player salaries. I'm not saying there's a cause/effect relationship there. I'm just noting the coincidence. Though, deep down, I'm betting there is a cause/effect in there somewhere...
posted by Thorzdad at 2:26 PM on October 9, 2009


Man, this was a phenomenal article. Really gotta make you sad that 75% of families can't ever afford to see a professional sporting event. We used to make the three-hour drive a couple times a season--whenever we could get away with it, really--to see the Diamondbacks play in Phoenix. I didn't go at all last year. Why bother? Six hours in the car, $50 a ticket, plus whatever they gouge you for food and drink? To see your team lose, because ownership can't be bothered to put a decent product on the field--or even honor the short history of the organization? If the decision of Byrnes et al to eschew the Diamondbacks purple/teal color scheme in favor of *gag* "Sedona Red" isn't a classic example of the "harvesting" Thompson mentions, I don't know what is. The whole sport is eating itself alive to make a quick buck.
posted by kjh at 2:39 PM on October 9, 2009


If you really want to enjoy a baseball game the "old-fashioned" way, go to a minor league game. Especially if it's triple-A, you get major league play for nowhere near major league prices. I was in Albuquerque this past summer and went to see the Isotopes

I was ready to call "Hijinks", but --- Wow!

I 'concur' about minor-leagues FTW, btw. SI Yankees are great ( once you have an usher clean the bird shit off your seat, that is... )
posted by mikelieman at 2:53 PM on October 9, 2009


Your profile says you're Minneapolis, there must be some teams nearby for you.

The Twins season ticket pricing has some cheap seats available at $10 a game in a 20-game package. Other seats do climb upwards in price. Can't find next year's single-game pricing, may not be released yet.

Meanwhile, one adult general admission ticket for the Saint Paul Saints was a Lincoln portrait, five smackeroos.
posted by gimonca at 2:56 PM on October 9, 2009


QuestionableSwami: If you really want to enjoy a baseball game the "old-fashioned" way, go to a minor league game. Especially if it's triple-A, you get major league play for nowhere near major league prices. I was in Albuquerque this past summer and went to see the Isotopes (LA Dodgers triple-A club) in a nice modern stadium and sat behind home plate for $15. My total outlay for the whole game -- tickets, beer, food, parking, etc. -- was under $50.

Agreed. And back when I lived in NM, I remember seeing the 'Topes a whole bunch of times... only aren't they a Florida farm team?
posted by koeselitz at 3:00 PM on October 9, 2009


Ah - just changed.
posted by koeselitz at 3:01 PM on October 9, 2009


only aren't they a Florida farm team?

Marlins.
posted by mikelieman at 3:01 PM on October 9, 2009


I grew up a Yankees fan because where I grew up, the nearest team was a two and a half drive away, and I had a little league coach who talked the world up about Mickey Mantle and Co. After twenty-three years, I finally attended my first game at a Yankees stadium this last August. It was the first time I had even visited New York City since I was about eight or nine and I was pretty excited. I had missed the chance to experience a game in The Yankee Stadium, but I convinced myself, "This is the home of the Yankees for the next hundred years, and will someday have the same storied history."

The new stadium was impressive, if actually a bit underwhelming once one left the great hall. My father had shelled out $300, a birthday present for him and myself, to attend the game and we sat in an area where one could order food and have it brought to you. Not too far from the very high priced seats often spoken of. My greatest lasting impression of the game was the fact that for a team that could build a billion dollar stadium, to have seats that cost over a thousand dollars, the Yankees could not find one person to sing the National Anthem. Instead, a cheesy pre-recorded rendition was piped in over the intercom system.

I love baseball, it is a sport I played from six to seventeen. However, I've found I just can't enjoy going to professional games anymore without thinking of the prices, and how absurd it is that I've seen standing room sold for nearly twenty dollars. Though, I can count on both my hands the number of major league games I've attended. I don't know how eager I'll be the next time an opportunity arises.
posted by Atreides at 3:04 PM on October 9, 2009


this fits with a little refrain that's been running through my head a little bit lately:

"how much of this is the fault of the baby boom?"

because when you look at that list of box seat prices through the years, and you realize that they quintupled the price in one year, and have multiplied that price (along with many many other prices in the same time frame) 71x in the past 40 years not counting this year's staggering increase... that's not just the natural ebb and flow of currency. that's not just cost of living going up, though I think they contribute to each other. In 1967, it wouldn't be that hard to put together the $3.50 you need to get one of the best seats in the house for a yankee game. harder than it would be to put the same amount together now, sure, for some people. absolutely. but still... $3.50 was not "oh my god, we'll never be able to afford that even if we scrimp and save" style money. right now, $1200 for a ball game might as well be a million, as far as I'm concerned. I will NEVER have that money handy at what I currently make. the greed necessary to see that price point as a wise decision is mind blowing to me. People my dad's age, who once could go to a game for 3 dollars and under, want to take 1200 (down from 2500!) for those seats. and I can't help but feel we're looking at sheer, bald faced ruthlessness. precisely the kind of attitude that one hears works so well in big business.

and I start to wonder if that doesn't have something to do with how cutthroat the job market became when the baby boomers entered it. if maybe the national landscape didn't take a significant dive for the worse when an entire generation had to fight each other tooth and nail for work in the 70s. if maybe that didn't create the kind of atmosphere that says "fuck you, I got mine" and sees no angle in being reasonable and open.

and please don't think I'm saying all baby boomers are assholes or anything like that. but I think a cultural mindset can change even if most of the individual minds haven't.

anyway, just spitballin'. it's something I wonder occasionally.
posted by shmegegge at 3:05 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


and the crowd will be a great sort of people, there to have fun on a summer night.

I've been in some of the scariest crowds at minor-league games, too. Maybe I just have a low tolerance for racist, sexist, homophobic heckling, which is apparently "part of the game" for some fans.
posted by muddgirl at 3:06 PM on October 9, 2009


I am automatically a fan of any team that really calls itself the Isotopes. Very cool.



And I'll add myself as another voice in favor of the minor leages. I've been to one professional game (which was fantastic, actually, since it was watching the Astros stomp on the dratted Cubs) but overall I'd have to say I always had way more fun going to Rainiers games at Cheney Stadium back in the day, with my dad. I don't even like baseball that much and I always had fun at Rainiers games. Aw, now I'm all nostalgic.
posted by Neofelis at 3:07 PM on October 9, 2009


This was a good story. And the end gets at something important: right now, after a generation of increasing wealth disparaties, we're living in the 1920s again. The world I grew up in is the same as the world of 1880-1929--rich getting a lot richer and everyone else treading water. What we need to do is bring back 1945-70, when people's incomes grew together, and everyone could afford to go to games.
posted by sy at 3:09 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I guess Yankees management never recovered from the Costanza hiring.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:15 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Tickets for Pirates games still start at only $9 a seat and even the decent seats are usually < $20. Of course the team is the worst in the history of professional baseball but the ballfield is wonderful and sometimes you get to see a good visiting team.
posted by octothorpe at 3:20 PM on October 9, 2009


As an aside, this guy wrote a pretty phenomenal article on the 1962 Ole Miss Rebels a while back.

(I once considered making my first FPP about it, but I figured a post that combined sports, race relations, and the American South would go over like a lead balloon. So here it is!)
posted by gordie at 3:24 PM on October 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


If you're on a budget but still want to throw away all your money at a Yankees game, you could always order a $15 steak sandwich and a $12.50 beer.
posted by albrecht at 3:37 PM on October 9, 2009


I was fortunate enough to be living in Phoenix during the year the Diamondbacks were on fire and won the World Series. Thanks to the local independent channel (Channel 3) having some kind of magic contract with the ball-club, they televised some 75-80% of the games, which is a lot of ball games to see from a single team in a season. I also went to see 26 games at the ball park that season.

At the time, I could pretty much grab a ticket any night for a game for $9-15, about what I'd spend in a couple of hours at one of the local gay bars if I were buying drinks other than beer-bust beers. Granted, these were top deck seats, but being at (what was then called) Bank One Ballpark was a magical experience. They would roll open the roof, and open the panels in the outfield wall, and suddenly what had until then been an indoor covered stadium felt like an old-fashioned open air ballpark.

More than a couple of times, I paid between $20 and $35 for a ticket, about what I would spend to go out to a concert in a smaller venue in Phoenix. These were usually bottom level seats, usually in the killed-by-a-foul-ball range. Again, being AT the ballpark was a magical experience -- totally different vibe from being at home watching the game, or even from being in a crowded sports bar when that was the featured game on the big screens. It's the difference between watching a rock concert on HBO and going to the arena for the show.

I did get to see one of the World Series games. I had seats out behind right field, and paid $110/each for them. I've paid much more to see U2 in concert. But man, the energy in that stadium, watching Randy Johnson pitch something over 15 strikeouts, waving our silly little towels with thousands of other baseball fans... It was truly a night I'll remember all my life.

All that said, I could NEVER afford to get one of the seats in the "golden section" behind home plate, or even between home and first or third. Those seats were just beyond what I wanted to spend for a night at the ballpark, most of them coming in at $75 or more. Plus, most of those were sold already as season ticket packages (obviously for the most devoted fans), and I refuse REFUSE to pay scalper / secondary market prices for any event ticket, ever, unless maybe they resurrect John and George for a Beatles reunion.

I cannot imagine the kind of thinking which went into the ticket pricing at the new Yankees stadium, but as a baseball fan who doesn't really like most other sports (except curling), I find it despicable and a bit nauseating. Even at the reduced prices, I cannot imagine trying to get tickets to one of those shows. I used to hate the Yankees because they won all the time by paying too much for their players. Now I hate them for a whole other group of reasons, too.
posted by hippybear at 3:42 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Here's the thing about me and sports: I don't particularly like them (the last, and really the only, sport that I participated in voluntarily (that is, outside of PE in school) was cycling, and even then only to the extent that I did a few centuries, never ever racing) and I have never attended a professional game, except for baseball.

But I do enjoy a baseball game. I went to a Cardinals game when I was a kid and the entire family went to St. Louis for the day, when I was about six or so. I didn't go to another game until Memphis built its nice new stadium downtown, and I went with a bunch of people that I knew... and I had fun. It's hard to say why, since I still don't really follow any team's standings. Maybe it has something to do with the geometry of the game, more interesting than those other games where it's all about the teams trying to get the thing down to one end or another. Maybe it's the more leisurely pace or it being more like a park or that you can get up and walk around a bit and it's no big deal. I went to another Cardinals game a few years ago, and it was fun, too.

But I didn't have to pay for the Cards tickets; I won them by making a high score in one of those bar-top video game things. They even threw in for the hotel room. I probably wouldn't have gone otherwise; it was fun, but not that much fun.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:51 PM on October 9, 2009


When I moved to London in 1976, and for a number of years after that, you could look at the paper on a Saturday morning (this was in the days when all games were played at 3pm on Saturday) to see who was playing at home and decide, at 11am, whether you'd go to Chelsea, Spurs, West Ham, etc., get there for 2pm, pay a reasonable price on the door (for a seat if you were lucky, but usually standing) and see what was then First Division football, big name clubs. I had no particularly loyalty to any London team, being a Manchester United fan, but as a lover of the beautiful game, it was always good to see a live match (except the occasional dire 0-0 on a wet February afternoon).

After Hillsborough in 1989, when the stadiums had to become all-seater, it got harder to go to a game on a whim, and the reduced capacity of the grounds as a result of them being all-seater drove the prices up. Then it became all advanced ticket sales, and I stopped going to live football matches because I just couldn't afford it. In the 1990s, football (I'm talking English Premiership here) turned into this commodity worth millions of pounds, where fairly average players were being paid £50,000 a week, and someone had to pay for it. Sky TV helped, but the cost to the fans was enormous.

A friend of mine, an Arsenal fan all his life and a life-long season ticket holder at Highbury, was invited on a tour of the new Emirates stadium before the club moved there so he could pick out his seat for the next season. He'd been paying about £630 a season at Highbury (not including cup and European games, which were another £40 a game each) for a wonderful seat 20 rows back on the half-way line. For a similar seat, they wanted £1,800. A really poor seat, right up in the roof where the pitch looked as small as if it was on TV cost over £800. It broke his heart, but he had to say no.

I love football, but for the ordinary working person, paying £40 a ticket, another £5 to the ticket agency, plus £10 travel, plus £10 for something to eat is just too much. The days of a father taking his two or three kids to the game and developing that club loyalty ingrained for life is now the preserve of the wealthy. Even my local club, Leyton Orient (who are shite and will never ever be in the Premiership) wants between £20 and £35 per game to watch lower league football.

So these days I'm an armchair fan. It makes me sad. There's nothing more exciting than being at a really good football match when your team scores the winning goal in a 4-3 end-to-end thriller with the last kick of the game.
posted by essexjan at 4:18 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


hippybear, I left Phoenix at the beginning of that glorious season, but spent the entire Diamondbacks existence up to that point going to every game I could--upper deck tickets were well-priced, but you needed to bring a sweater in the middle of August because they'd have the roof closed and the a/c cranking and it was cold as fuck up there in the nosebleeds.

Later I spent a lot of time sitting a couple of rows away from Luis Gonzalez's ass in left field thanks to my boss's season tickets. I really got to like seeing the game that perspective, especially if I remembered to bring field glasses.

Sadly, I watched that Series on a couch in San Francisco.
posted by padraigin at 4:23 PM on October 9, 2009


In June of last year, I took my family to a game at Yankee Stadium, as I had promised them all that we would see a game there before it was closed. Five tickets in Tier 23 (Row M), five hot dogs, five bottles of water and five frozen lemonades set me back about $400. It was miserably hot and humid, the seats were uncomfortable, and the view sucked. We had a great time anyway, because we were at a game in Yankee Stadium, and you could feel the history in the place.

I wouldn't pay five cents to see a game at the new stadium, even in the "Legends Suite".
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:36 PM on October 9, 2009


Does that stadium seriously benefit New York more than a multistorey carpark of the same size in the same location would?

How about a hospital?

How about rental accommodation?
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:37 PM on October 9, 2009


I was in Pittsburgh last month and decided to go to a game. I asked for a $16 ticket at the ticket window and the guy sold it to me for half price. The announced attendance was >12K but there weren't even half that many people in the stadium. After a few innings I walked around, sitting behind home plate for a while, up in the left field grandstand, etc.
posted by plastic_animals at 4:52 PM on October 9, 2009


I'm a baseball fan, but I'm not willing to pay $100 to take my family to see the Mariners. Safeco does have bleacher seats for $7 each, but I'd like the kids to actually see the game. Because of high ticket prices, and because games are only on cable TV, I haven't seen a game yet this summer.

I used to be able to name all of my team's players, their positions, some stats and trivia. Now I have no idea what's going on and don't feel like they're "my" team any more. When my kids are older I'll splurge once in a while, but it definitely isn't going to be a regular event.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:06 PM on October 9, 2009


What a bunch of crybabies you guys are. The Yankees don't know a damn thing about greed. They need to drive down to DC, sit at the knee of Dan Synder, and learn from the master.
posted by mojohand at 5:34 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can't actually stand baseball, yet going to Chiba Marines' games is one of the more enjoyable aspects of summer in Japan. Outfield tickets (where the people with trumpets, drums, and bullhorns are) are about $18, roughly. Once in a while (say, when we bring my wife's parents) we'll sit in the upper deck, with tickets at about $24 each. It's not cheap, but there are fans there every game, with their kids.

If it were more than that, I wouldn't go, I imagine. As it is, my wife and I, since the tickets are so cheap (same price, sadly, as a movie ticket in Japan) go maybe 5 or 6 times a year, if we can make it. We're two people who aren't crazy about baseball, but seeing a live game has made us fans, at least, of one team, to the point that we can watch their games on tv.

I used to dream, back when I lived in the US, of having season tickets to an NBA team. Maybe the Wolves, or the Blazers, or the Sonics (d'oh). Twenty years ago, it wasn't so impossible. Now, I realize if I lived in an NBA city, I'd be hard pressed to justify a single game a year.

As the article mentioned, it's harvesting. My wife can't stand the football games I watch (downloaded, since the NFL shows three or four games a week, usually three days late, never the Bears, in Japan), but said that, if maybe she went to a live game, she might enjoy it. My love of the Bears comes from attending live games as a kid, just like my love of the Marines now. I'd love to indulge her, and get her to a Bears' game, but tickets are just stupid, and my wife is one potential fan, then, that the Bears and the NFL will never have, simply because of the prices.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:14 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


These practices have pretty much eliminated streakers and Morganna appearances and I think we're the worse for it. The only way in which you could get anything similar to the "death of disco"/$.05 beer night fiascos nowadays is a "Increase the Capital Gains tax" night.
posted by Challahtronix at 7:37 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wanted to leap the barrier and get back to the greasy burgers and be around the people with genuine passion for the sporting event I was attending.

I go to too many baseball games and usually sit in lower or upper-deck outfield seats. Admittedly those seats have their share of people getting a very expensive stadium beer drunk on, but a lot of the people sitting out there in the (late lamented) Dome like and know their baseball.

I didn't bother with seats down the baseline at the Dome--the sightlines for baseball suck--but I did decide to splurge on a $50 ticket to a Rockies game in Denver to sit down the first-base line, about 8 rows from the field. Great seats, great view...the people around me had no idea about baseball and arrived late and left early. The people in front of me looked a bit interested, at least, but I ended up explaining why people were giving Greg Maddux a standing ovation as he left the game and who this Trevor Hoffman guy was. Yeah, I know, the Padres were the opposing team, but not knowing some of the best pitchers of the last two decades? (They also weren't understanding why I was thankful that Jorge de la Rosa wasn't walking people...)

So, if anything, high ticket prices are encouraging corporate ownership of season tickets, in which the companies use the tickets as bribes and occasionally give away unused tickets to employees who couldn't care less about the sport in question. There's also the tickets as status symbol thing.
posted by Electric Elf at 10:14 PM on October 9, 2009


I'm not much of a sports fan, but I used to go with friends pretty regularly to Pirates games, because, well, they were cheap. Once, there were coupons in the newspaper - free admission with each coupon! - and when we got to the front of the line, we were just waved through. We got awesome seats, with an astonishing view of the city, and had a great time watching the Pirates lose.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:22 PM on October 9, 2009


If you go to a major US professional sporting event, you're just an extra on a TV show. You aren't the audience, the people watching TV are. (Doesn't every major sport have TV timeouts?)
Franchises want them to be fans, to buy the gear and pull for their teams and watch the telecasts the leagues are paid billions for. But they don't need them to come to their stadiums. There are, right now, plenty of rich people who love games. The prices reflect that. The reason sporting events cost so much now, Luker's research shows, is because they are designed to be affordable only to those making $150,000 or more a year.
This is sad, because a major trope of American culture is going to your first baseball game with your parents.

you get major league play for nowhere near major league prices

Actually, you get not quite major league play, by definition, and that makes it more fun. Major leaguers are so highly skilled that they routinely make great plays and a ground ball is almost always an out. In the minor leagues things aren't quite so automatic. I saw an inside-the-park home run and a guy steal first base. I used to see the Durham Bulls play at their old park, and it was just like walking into Bull Durham. Awesome.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:27 PM on October 9, 2009


Doesn't every major sport have TV timeouts?

I don't remember TV timeouts in any of the major league baseball games I attended. But then, baseball is the only game without a countdown clock, and has plenty of natural game breaks for television commercials.

Maybe I'm wrong about that, but even the world series game didn't have breaks in play built-in for TV commercials, as far as I can remember...
posted by hippybear at 11:57 PM on October 9, 2009


I love baseball in Korea. Tickers are about four bucks US, and you can bring whatever you want into the stadium to eat or drink. It's got more of that family atmosphere I grew up with attending Orioles games at old Memorial Stadium.

That said, there will always be rich assholes willing to spend egregious amounts of money for front-row tickets. And there will always be the Yankees and cities like New York where everything is super-expensive.
posted by bardic at 12:44 AM on October 10, 2009


Minor-league ball is a joy. We live in Oakland but our "home" club is the single-A San Jose Giants; we usually buy a box-seat package and drive down four or five times a season. We've been to see the A's—once. It's a dump. So's San Jose Municipal Stadium, but at least that's a charming dump. If we want to see a game in a really nice facility, the Rivercats have a gorgeous park just up 80 in Sacramento.

And there's nothing on earth like a summer evening game in Albuquerque, watching the storm clouds dissapate and glow as the Sandias turn watermelon pink.

It even makes up for the stupid Simpsons reference in the name of the franchise. Had to run a contest, couldn't just call them the Albuquerque Dukes...grumble
posted by Lazlo at 1:03 AM on October 10, 2009


Maybe I'm wrong about that, but even the world series game didn't have breaks in play built-in for TV commercials, as far as I can remember...

You're not wrong, there are no television time outs in baseball. There's plenty of time between the teams coming and going off the field. Every time a team takes the field, they generally have a short warm up period, when the infield practices throwing to the first basemen, the center fielder will throw to either the left or right fielder, and either the left or right fielder will throw with someone on the foul line. And of course, the picture takes some warm up pitches. All this means time for commercials. Just watch the next game on tv and note how quickly the broadcast goes to commercial as soon as the third out of the top or bottom of an inning occurs.

And of course, now they also replace bases and groom the field at least twice a game (longest during 7th inning), which also gives time for lengthier commercials.
posted by Atreides at 4:58 AM on October 10, 2009


I'm a sucker for good graphic design, and you really need to hold a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape to appreciate it, since the picture of it in this article does not du it justice. The bottle I have has that same label on it, but the same text is also on the label in braille.

Actually, if you look at the label a little more closely, I think you'll find that you have a bottle not from Chateau de Beaucastel but from M. Chapoutier.

He added braille to his labels after hearing that a blind friend of his could not buy wine by himself.

"I was watching Gilbert Montagnie on the TV one day and he was explaining that he could not go into a store alone," says Mr Chapoutier. "He always had to have someone with him to tell him which wine he was picking up."

posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:00 AM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I went to the last Braves home game this year. I had a contract job with Turner Broadcasting earlier in the year, so I still had the packet of free ticket vouchers they practically toss at all their employees from the start of the season. It's like a little booklet of 20 tickets, each one "good for a $15 seat at any Braves home game." But they're stackable, so you can spend 4 on a $60 seat, etc.

Anyway, I went with two friends, and we realized right at the ticket booth that we could use them with the all-you-can-eat seats. So I got to toss the entire packet of vouchers on the counter and say "well I'll take three then." That was probably the pimpest thing I've ever gotten to do in my life. Also, I ate about an entire package's worth of hot dogs entirely on my own. Do you know how much it would have cost to buy six hot dogs at Turner field individually? Forty-two dollars.

Where was I? Right, tickets. Look, $1,200 seats at Yankee stadium is probably the first part of professional baseball that makes sense to me. They pay eight-figure salaries to people to play a game you can watch high school students play for free and you're surprised they're asking that much for tickets? Anyway, the reason I said all that stuff earlier was because I refuse to accept any sports fans' bullshit "these are the BEST in the GAME, man" argument. I went and watched the Braves play the Nationals. I'm Andy Rooney. Goodnight.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:38 AM on October 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I played baseball all through my youth. I used to go see the Toronto Blue Jays for a couple of games each summer as a kid. We would get $1 bleacher tickets and race in for festival seating and roam the seats with our baseball gloves. Good Times. I watched the Jays win 2 World Series but by then I had already mostly lost interest.

I think I have been to one game in the Sky Dome. I'm not even sure. That is how little it mattered to me.

I loved watching Basketball. I watched almost every televised Raptor game. Then I moved outside the broadcast area and not into another teams area. No. Just outside the regular broadcast area. At that point the NBA dictated to me, a fan of my home team, what games I could watch (only national broadcasts) and these rarely included my team and instead featured some asinine rivalries between players who had sissyfits with each other.

Of course I could have paid XX dollars for a cable hookup, payTV box and a bundled set of PayTV channels so I could get Raptor TV. Which would let me watch Raptors games and a whole lot of crap other stuff lifted straight from NBA TV which almost never included anything worth watching.

So basically professional sports harvested my pathetic yield years ago and turned a potential lifetime fan whose earning potential should only continue to increase into an anti-pro sports meh-tard.


They aren't harvesting. They are engaging in a scorched earth retreat salting the soil as the go.

No doubt they will start complaining about internet piracy any moment now.
posted by srboisvert at 6:48 AM on October 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I used to be a huge Yankee fan in my early years. Even though the team was miserable, I followed them religiously and knew all the player statistics. Now I find baseball impossible to watch. It is just too fucking slow. It boggles my mind why they permit the players to call time out, step out of the box and adjust their batting gloves between pitches. Inevitably I find myself changing channels and watching another program between pitches until I finally give up on the game entirely.
posted by digsrus at 7:07 AM on October 10, 2009


Thanks for posting this great article, and I'm glad other MeFites are enjoying it too. Well, I use the word "enjoying" loosely, I suppose, considering it's about how everything's going to hell in a handbasket.

Also, kirkaracha is of course correct: minor-league play is not at major-league level, but it's no less enjoyable for that, and the price is right.
posted by languagehat at 7:15 AM on October 10, 2009


When I was a kid I lived, breathed and dreamed sports, especially hockey. Over the years I gradually lost interest in everything except NFL football (and even that, to be honest, is as much of an excuse to pass out on the couch for a couple of hours on Sunday afternoons as it is anything else), to the point where I couldn't even be bothered to watch Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals last year because I had people over that night. Part of the reason for this is just getting older and developing other interests, but it's also, I think, because the pro sports leagues have done a lot to alienate fans like me. The games are too expensive (it costs a family of four an average of $628 to see a Leafs game these days), and if you do shell your hard-earned cash out, what do you get? Endless TV timeouts, jock rock blaring during every stoppage in play, lifeless crowds (at least in Toronto) mostly comprised of business types who show up late, leave early and barely pay attention to the game, ridicuously expensive food and drinks and an overall impression that the team doesn't trust that you'll stay interested in the game without t-shirt cannons and all that nonsense. The last time I saw the Leafs play (my brother was given free tickets) the best part was the between-periods break where they let little kids play for five minutes; this also got the most enthusiastic response from the crowd, even though most people were getting food or in the washroom. What does that tell you?
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:20 AM on October 10, 2009


>an overall impression that the team doesn't trust that you'll stay interested in the game without t-shirt cannons and all that nonsense
I agree, Card Cheat.

I went to the World Junior hockey games here in Ottawa last Christmas. Great hockey for 20 or 30 dollar ticket and a lot less of the nonsense. (Mefites in Buffalo, Edmonton, Saskatchewan: the tournament is coming to your town in 2010, 2011, 2012. It's good hockey. Go see it.)

The fog horn or siren after a goal seems unfathonably ridiculous to me. As if no one notices that a goal is scored. There is less home ice advatnage these days because your fans are drowned out by a fog horn.
posted by philfromhavelock at 9:34 AM on October 10, 2009


If that's true, your life must really, really suck. I don't dispute that professional and crypto-professional college sports get vastly more attention than they deserve, but they are, at heart, entertainment, something we all need. Maybe you could begrudge those who find it there just a little less.

How about you start playing the sport instead of sitting in a seat and just watching it? I like playing video games, even though I'm not great at them. Watching others play video games? Puh-leeze. I like playing baseball and football too (even though I'm usually a detriment to the team), but watching sports is just fucking banal.
posted by Evilspork at 2:50 PM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought this article was so insightful that it inspired me to write a short thank you email to the author.
Then it made me think about the other million reasons it's quickly becoming impossible to be a middle-class American anymore. This whole culture of corporate corruption and lobbyists running the country thing really sucks.
Then I wrote an email to President Obama asking him to please remember the plight of us working stiffs trying to survive as middle-class Americans.
Thanks for an interesting hour of my life in 2009, Metafilter.
posted by BillBishop at 3:30 PM on October 10, 2009


A graphical comparison of major league ticket prices.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:08 PM on October 10, 2009


She looks around, corrects herself. "These aren't the regular people," she says. "The regular people are in the 400s." "Those seats have cushions, too," Ian says. He makes a good point. Much has been said and written about The Moat and how it highlights the divide between the haves and the have-nots. But that's not quite right. There are no have-nots here.

For sure, this guy didn't venture to the 400s, never mind the bleachers.

Obviously Ian doesn't sit in the 400s. You can get to every other level via elevator. But the 400s are a climb up from the 300s, where the elevators stop. And no cushions. This is way above the moat. And the seats are $25 a game so it is not that bad a deal. This year you could get them on StubHub for below face value. Just avoid the $10 beers and you're OK.

Sorry, I really resent some guy who spent $1200 on a ticket and $200 on a bottle of wine telling me we're all brothers in the same elite club. Some guy that is otherwise forced to sit in the ... press box! Horrors!!

If he wanted to make the point he should have mentioned how you used to be able to hang around in the outfield field-level during batting practice and go for balls hit in the stands. Then when the new stadium opened you couldn't do that. They later revised that after complaints so that ... well ... read the web site if you need details. (You weren't allowed in the expensive seats without a ticket last year, either. Even during batting practice.) He also should have used the infamous Lon Trost quote.

The game is amazing up close. I'd never noticed how much the first baseman jokes with the baserunner before.

I'm guessing this is the rare sports writer that doesn't know about "television"?
posted by asusu at 11:38 PM on October 10, 2009


Rhaomi. There are lies, damn lies and charts. The graphical representation does not account for the number of seats available at any given price in a stadium. E.G The number of $12.00 tickets Red Sox offer is so small that they don't even appear on the seating diagrams. So when the "lowest" price more than doubles the charts need serious modification.
posted by Gungho at 6:22 AM on October 11, 2009


Just to comment, Baseball needs a rebalancing, but nobody's willing to break the statistics.

As a game, at the highest levels, it's really, *really* predictable. Batter swings. One of five things is likely to happen:

1) Strike
2) Ball
3) Pop up out
4) Home run
5) Line drive, probably a single

Go ahead and watch the Little League World Series, and you'll find it's far more interesting. People make mistakes, which have consequences. Balls are actually dropped -- not as freakish occurances, but regularly.

Baseball has become a sport of drilled plays, the statistically best thing done at every moment. It's just too predictable.

In information theory terms, baseball is so much simpler than...well, everything at this point. Bowling is worse, but only by degrees.
posted by effugas at 1:07 AM on October 12, 2009


Coney Island stadium - minor-league base-ball on the beach. I've been behind the dug-out at Shea (20 years ago) and that was pretty great. I've been to many Yankee games at the old stadium - quite a few on tickets passed on by contractors - also good. I only ever started following baseball because in the 80's-90's almost every Yankees game was broadcast on channel 11 and I didn't have cable.

Listening to Yankee games on the radio while driving upstate has also given me vast amounts of entertainment, but Coney Island. That's the best. Lots and lots of families, twilight on the seashore. Worth way way more than it cost.

Great article. Thanks.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:52 AM on October 12, 2009


As a game, at the highest levels, it's really, *really* predictable. Batter swings. One of five things is likely to happen:

You can break down any sport into simple predictable actions and render it mundane. What makes watching baseball interesting is the effect and possibilities of what could happen from any of those five things happening. If it's the third strike, then that's an out, and is that's the third out, there goes the inning. If he hits the ball, where does he hit it? A hit to the first baseman is different than a hit to the third baseman. A pop up can be dramatically different if there's a runner on third waiting to tag up or if no one is on base. The more variables you add the more complex the events that can occur. If a player is on third and there's a single to the second baseman, does the second baseman check the runner on third (and does that runner do a good enough job to force the checking) or does the second baseman throw to first and hope the first baseman can whip it around in time to stop a runner, who may or may not be fast enough to get home? The great amount of unpredictability when a batter steps to the plate can be exciting to watch because the scenarios you announced are by no means equal in happening and are determinate on all sorts of things.
posted by Atreides at 5:54 AM on October 12, 2009


Evilspork: "How about you start playing the sport instead of sitting in a seat and just watching it? I like playing video games, even though I'm not great at them. Watching others play video games? Puh-leeze. I like playing baseball and football too (even though I'm usually a detriment to the team), but watching sports is just fucking banal."

It's just entertainment. I also read books other people have written, eat meals other people have cooked, and watch other people act out scripts.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:32 AM on October 12, 2009


effugas: If you are saying that, you haven't been watching baseball this season much AT ALL. The era of steroids has ended, and the game has gotten much less predicable as a result. This season has seen unassisted triple plays, perfect games being pitched, players hitting for the cycle... I saw a double play just recently which involved a shortstop catch of a fly and a throw to third. I saw a point scored on a very tight slide where the runner reached around the catcher and touched the base as he slid on past.

This year has been some of the most exciting, fun, even error-ridden baseball in recent memory for me. If you like small ball play, if you like strategic running, if you like tension and wonderment, then you should make sure to watch baseball next season. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
posted by hippybear at 8:41 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


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