Cost of sports tickets catches fans offside

Lukas Raschilla Roar Rookie

By Lukas Raschilla, Lukas Raschilla is a Roar Rookie

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    Those that choose to attend Major League Baseball’s opening series in Sydney this month will be left with empty pockets, with the price of a ticket in the nosebleeds starting at $69 and premium seats behind the batter’s box going for $499 apiece.

    The Arizona Diamondbacks will face off against the Los Angeles Dodgers for the first two games of the regular season, with games slated for March 22 and 23 at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground.

    Compared to the ticket prices for the upcoming 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand, where the cheapest adult ticket is $20 and kids’ tickets available from as little as $5, it seems that the chance to see America’s pastime is out of reach for most Australians.

    The financial cost to the teams and Major League Baseball for hosting such an event outside of North America is huge, but the fans are the ones being fleeced.

    With Dodgers’ starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw inking a deal that will see the left-hander earning around USD$31 million per season, Dodgers’ upper management appear more concerned with winning than ticket revenue.

    When looking at the average price of tickets to major sporting events, Major League Baseball games evidently have some of the cheapest tickets in North America.

    A regular season game at Dodger Stadium can be seen for as little as USD$18, while an MVP field box seat is only US$125 – a bargain in comparison to the opening series at the SCG.

    In the NBA, the iconic LA Lakers – who draw Hollywood celebrities such as Jack Nicholson on a regular basis – have tickets ranging from USD$49 up to thousands of dollars for floor seats like Nicholson enjoys.

    The question we must ask is have pro sports out-priced themselves? In hard economic times, has going to the game lost some of its cache?

    With live HD TV coverage available direct to your home, has watching sport live waned in popularity? Is this a reason for such absurd ticket prices?

    Conversely, here in Australia stadiums such as the historic Melbourne Cricket Ground and its affiliate members organisation, the Melbourne Cricket Club, determine ticket prices members and guests for all sporting events held at the MCG according to different categories.

    Tickets in the MCC member stands can go for as little as $6 for the Sheffield Shield state cricket games.

    This competition runs at a loss, but Cricket Australia compensates this loss with revenue gained from broadcasting rights and sponsorships and from other competitions – namely Test matches and the new t20 Big Bash League.

    The relevant sporting bodies take control of the MCG ticketing for one-off events, with Socceroos games costing members an extra fee of $20, and the Liverpool FC game costing $60.

    These prices are on top of the $600-650 per year that full adult metro MCC members pay.

    In the US, Major League Baseball was one of the first leagues to adopt a process called dynamic ticket pricing, in which ticket prices fluctuate based on factors such as team performance, individual player performance and even weather.

    This format for pricing tickets attempts to simultaneously maximise revenue and attendance.

    Dynamic ticket pricing allows teams to encourage fans to attend games when their team is doing badly or playing against a weaker team, as the ticket price is reflective of the on-field product.

    By pricing tickets in such a way, teams no longer have to set prices before the beginning of the season and can vary the price of tickets in both directions according to demand.

    The one downside of dynamic ticket pricing is out-pricing fans and offending season ticket holders who have paid a set fee for every game of the season, especially when they have paid a lot more for a game than someone who has bought a single game ticket.

    To counteract this, some teams have adopted a floor for the minimum amount they can sell tickets. This allows them to price the cheapest tickets higher than what season ticket holders pay, so their valued members are still getting the cheapest seats.

    Additionally, sport tickets are set to provide opportunities for other types of revenue, such as parking, food, and merchandise, which would be limited if ticket prices were too high.

    This means that fans may be spending the same amount of money to attend the game, but rather than the ticket being the main portion, fans can afford to spend money at the stadium in other ways.

    This is most evident on the grassroots level.

    Toby Boyle, Operations Manager of AFL Goldfields and overseer of the Riddell District Football League in Melbourne’s north-west, says, “the main sources of revenue for local football clubs are the bar and sponsorship. Clubs would struggle if for some reason their liquor license was revoked.”

    In Victoria, local Aussie Rules teams do charge entry and the leagues set this price at between $8 and $11 for adults.

    The home clubs take all of the gate money in the home-and-away season, while the league takes the gate money for finals. Teams that host finals will pay the league a fee of around $3,000, however most clubs usually make about double that on the bar during finals matches.

    Unfortunately, as is evident for an event such as the MLB opening series, certain sporting events ticket prices are getting out of hand and are unattainable for everyday middle- and working-class families.

    While local sports are rarely spectacular or elite, a beer and pie with a front row seat at the local footy can be very appealing, especially compared to the option of buying a nosebleed seat and $10 beers at major pro sport venues.

    Conversely, others will argue that HD TV and a comfy lounge suite at home offer just as good a view, if not better than attending the event.

    That little thing called atmosphere is what will continue to draw fans, no matter what the cost.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • March 11th 2014 @ 4:05pm
      Franko said | March 11th 2014 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

      Great piece Lukas, wish I saw it earlier.

      Obviously there is an issue around supply and demand, no doubt the baseball will sell out and hence justify the pricing.

      I do think it says a lot about a society or an organisation when it charges what it can get away with rather than can afford, in Australia our clubs are supposed to be not for profit after all.

      I think dynamic pricing is on the way for the AFL at least, it saddens me because it reduces the measure of ones ability to partake in events by the remuneration one receives. That is a nurse or firefighter may have to miss out on Big 4 matches simply because of the profession they chose, rather than say a corporate lawyer or possibly real estate agent.

    • March 11th 2014 @ 6:24pm
      Michael said | March 11th 2014 @ 6:24pm | ! Report

      Well NRL is the perfect example of being a tv sport as there fans are theatregoers and are not as passionate as other codes fans. Most are fans but not supporters. A look at there ordinary crowds demonstrates this.

    • Roar Pro

      March 11th 2014 @ 11:27pm
      Eliot Bingham said | March 11th 2014 @ 11:27pm | ! Report

      “it seems that the chance to see America’s pastime is out of reach for most Australians.” Hence why both games are already sold out have have been for a month now. $69 is a small price to pay to see MLB in Australia which is why I bought a ticket as soon as I heard about it. You forget that this is a one off event involving two games where AFL plays 22 matches a season.

      • March 12th 2014 @ 8:00am
        Franko said | March 12th 2014 @ 8:00am | ! Report

        I think the point is Eliot, that their pitcher alone earns $31m per season and for many people the game in unaffordable to attend.

        Something doesn’t add up.

      • March 22nd 2014 @ 7:01pm
        Rodney said | March 22nd 2014 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

        Eliot. You may want to check ticketek. These games are not sold out.. The tickets from the cheapest category’s have sold out but the silver $259 to the platinum $499 are still available.. Hence “it seems the chance to see Americas past time is out of reach of most Australians.

    • Roar Rookie

      March 12th 2014 @ 5:14pm
      Lukas Raschilla said | March 12th 2014 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

      Eliot, events like this always seem to sell out. Im not sure if its businesses and corporate sponsors, but $69 for row ZZ nosebleeds doesn’t seem to be much value in my opinion. Compare that to events like the ICC 2015 cricket world cup, where even the final is under $200 a seat, or even a seminal band like the rolling stones being cheaper. If you love baseball its one thing, I’d probably pay a lot if NHL came down under, however, a uni student like me or an average income earning couldn’t afford to take a family to the game, which is the real shame. Furthermore, MLB has 162 games to make money from, plus broadcasting revenue.

    • Roar Guru

      March 12th 2014 @ 8:59pm
      Andrew Kitchener said | March 12th 2014 @ 8:59pm | ! Report

      Seems crazy that the MLB and these two franchises – not exactly cash-strapped organisations – are charging so much. Unfortunately, there is enough interest that people will pay whatever they have to for the chance to get into the games.

    • March 15th 2014 @ 4:30am
      RoyHobbsJr said | March 15th 2014 @ 4:30am | ! Report

      You need to find out who is earming the most from this event. Its at the SCG so i would guess its the SCG owners and NSW tourism. Either way i cant wait to get to it!

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