Overall, baseball ticket prices have remained stable this year: The average seat to a Major League game costs a bit under $27 in 2012, roughly the same as last year. Still, considering how many games there are during the season, and how little demand there is for tickets at certain stadiums, seats are often selling for far less than the average. In fact, it’s pretty easy to scoop up a ticket for a fraction of a price of a beer inside the park.
At the start of the 2012 MLB season, Team Marketing Research released its annual ticket price study, revealing an average ticket price of $26.98, just 1¢ higher than last year. The “Fan Cost Index,” which tabulates the total costs of taking a family of four to a game (including tickets, beverages, hot dogs, parking, and souvenirs), now registers at $207.68, up 2.4% from 2011.
In many cases, though, there’s no need to pay anywhere near these lofty sums—especially not just for a home game hosted by a team that’s not playing particularly well.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the Twins (currently in last place in the American League Central) is just such a team. This is only the third season Target Field has been open, and during the stadium’s first two years it set back-to-back attendance records.
So far, the 2012 season is a different story, with secondhand sellers regularly letting tickets go for half, sometimes 70% off of face value. Recently, tickets for Twins’ home games versus the Boston Red Sox—normally one of the better draws in terms of sales around the country—were selling for as little as $3.99 apiece online.
Speaking of the Red Sox, the team has a league-leading average home ticket price of $53.38, and a league-leading Fan Cost Index of $336.99. The Sox are also currently in last place in the American League East. The Boston Globe reported last week that, despite ownership’s claims that Fenway Park has sold out over 700 games in a row, the team has also struggled to sell seats at home. To keep the team’s sell-out streak alive, it has resorted to distributing tickets in all sorts of ways, so that even when there are vast numbers of empty seats in the house, the game can still count as a sell-out, technically.
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Tickets for Red Sox home games this week are selling for $4 on secondary sales sites such as StubHub. While that doesn’t factor in service fees, it’s $3.25 cheaper than the least-expensive draft beer at Fenway Park.
The $3.99 Twins tickets cited in the Star-Tribune article isn’t as low as prices could go at Target Field either. At last check, there were seats selling for games this week in Minneapolis for as little as $1.99 apiece.
The Pittsburgh Pirates and Florida Marlins are both struggling mightily to draw fans: Tickets to the former’s home games this week (versus the Washington Nationals) are going for $1.45, while a matchup of the two teams in Miami next week will cost as little as $2.
Cincinnati and Washington are two more cities that have the dubious honor of hosting MLB games where seats fetch at or under $2 on the secondary market. At those prices, entrance to the game is roughly half the price of a hot dog ($4.13, on average), and one-third the price of the cheapest beer at the stadium ($6.10).
It’s hard to say that the cost of tickets is what’s keeping fans away from the games. But perhaps the sky-high prices of hot dogs, beer, and everything else inside the stadium have something to do with it.