Hurray for $4 Beers! Baseball Teams Stop Ripping Off Fans with Jacked-Up Concessions

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Is a $4 beer a bargain? It is at a professional baseball stadium, where the average cheapest beer was $6.10 for all Major League teams last season, and many venues charged around $9 for a “premium” draft.

For the 2013 season, the Cleveland Indians are taking an almost unheard-of step to woo fans back to Progressive Field: Prices are dropping for many food and beverage items, according to the Plain Dealer. The price of all 12-ounce domestic beers will be $4, down from as much as $5.25 last year. Hot dogs will be priced at $3, down from $4.50 in 2012. Prices for brats, pizza, nachos, and ice cream cones will dip a bit as well, and soda refills will be available for $2. The stadium will also offer hot dogs for $1 at 15 home games, up from nine last year.

In a way, the move by the Indians can be viewed as something of an apology to fans for a mostly pathetic 2012 season. The team went 5-24 in August, and the ballpark was often empty throughout the summer. For the season as a whole, the Indians ranked 29th out of 30 Major League Baseball teams in home game attendance.

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By offering cheaper concessions, the Indians are giving fans a reason to come back to the stadium. It’s a way to make amends for a bad season, and it’s also a simple—and smart—attempt to boost sales of tickets and concessions. “Will the [fans] come to a game more often? That’s our goal,” Kurt Schloss, the Indians’ Vice President of Concessions said to CNBC. “I hate to say we make it up in volume but that’s what we’re looking for.”

The Indians conducted surveys that yielded results that everyone would know without needing a survey: “that concessions was a barrier to the enjoyment part of attending a baseball game in Cleveland,” according to Schloss.

Some pro team owners seem to be realizing that if they push prices too high, fans will buy fewer beers and hot dogs in the stadium. They might also just give up on coming to games. This probably seems obvious to the many fans who are more likely watching games from their couches nowadays. But at pro sporting events, it can seem like a deal when you’re “only” paying $10 for parking (the rate at Los Angeles Dodgers games, down from $15), and a beer “only” costs $5 (the Houston Astros expanded its $5 beer offerings last year).

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Everything’s relative, of course. The prospect of a $4 beer at a pro sporting event certainly seems like a deal compared to prices at Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park. But it’s still more than double the cost of the average beer sold in the U.S.