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Home MLB News Ticket / Attendance Watch Redefining "Commitment" When It Comes to Ticket Prices

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Redefining "Commitment" When It Comes to Ticket Prices PDF Print E-mail
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Ticket & Attendance Watch
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 13 April 2009 14:17

MLBThis past off-season, much was made about Commissioner Selig telling clubs not to get too “cocky” on ticket prices. And, for the most part, the owners listened. On top of this, the league has been working on discounts across the league (see the PDF at this link).  If not for the Yankees jacking the average cost of a ticket at new Yankee Stadium up a staggering 76.3 percent from last year, the league average would be up less than one percent from last season. Instead, it’s up just under 5 percent.

And, that 5 percent increase is just about average.

Looking back over the last decade, the average cost of a ticket to a ballgame in MLB has risen 5.7 percent. The league has seen one decline in the average cost (2002 when the cost declined by 3.71 percent), but that came after the league saw the highest increase in ticket price average in the last decade, a 12.32 percent increase from 2000 to 2001.

I mention all of this as there has been much made by the Dodgers this past week regarding the cost of attending games.

"Many families are dealing with the question, 'What's valuable to us? What matters?' We want to make the game more accessible and more affordable," said Dodgers CEO Jamie McCourt in a press release last week. "We value their devotion to the game and hope to offer the kinds of ticket and event packages that will make baseball a memorable, meaningful and affordable piece of their summer of 2009. This is more than an initiative; it is a commitment."

In a vacuum, these comments McCourt appear to show an organization that is in touch with the issues facing fans during these recessionary times in the Los Angeles area. The club locked in ticket prices from last season, and lowered concession costs, a sign, says the Dodgers, that they are doing their part to make going to a game at Dodger Stadium affordable.

But, when looking at the price of attending a game at Chavez Ravine over the last decade, the Dodgers have escalated the ticket prices at a rate far beyond the league average.

While the cost of an average ticket in MLB has increased an average of 5.7 percent over the last decade, the Dodgers have increased the average ticket price over 9 percent over the same period.

Part of this is due to the Dodgers adding more premium seating to Dodger Stadium. Still, the Dodgers now see the average cost of a ticket more than $3 over the league average.

Maybe the Dodgers are truly sincere in their efforts. As McCourt said, “This is more than an initiative; it is a commitment.” When you use the word “commitment” one thinks of a relationship. Solid relationships – commitments – come over time. One wonders, based upon the escalating cost that has occurred during good times, whether this cost correction is simply a by-product of the recession kicking the league, and the Dodgers, in the teeth. The true test of this “commitment” by Jamie McCourt and the Dodgers will be when the economy starts to pull out of its tailspin. Will the Dodgers then over-correct, and implement a large increase in prices to offset the declines? Or, will the Dodgers work toward getting their price increases more inline with the league average?

As the table and chart below shows, there was a commitment by the Dodgers from 2000-2006 to make going to games affordable; the price was below the league average. But, what is interesting to note is that from the time the McCourts purchased the Dodgers, the average cost increased at a rate higher than years prior when News Corp. owned the club, culminating in the massive spike from 2006 to 2007 that now sees the Dodgers ranked 8th in the league, based on average ticket price. Let’s see what the Dodgers are “committed” to next season at this time, should the economy get turned around. Is this a real marriage with the fans, or is “commitment” just a one-year fling for the Dodgers?

Select Read More to see MLB and Dodgers average ticket price over the last decade, the percentage of decrease or increase, and a chart with trendline showing where prices could continue next season


MLB and Dodgers Average Ticket Cost

(Click to see in larger view)
Table with associated
data below


MLB and Dodgers Avg. Ticket Prices (2000-2009)
Year MLB % (+/-) Dodgers % (+/-)
2000 $16.65
-- $15.44
--
2001 $18.99
12.32%
$15.43
-0.06%
2002 $18.31
-3.71%
$16.38
5.80%
2003 $18.69
2.03%
$16.38
0.00%
2004 $19.82
5.70%
$16.92
3.19%
2005 $21.17
6.38%
$18.94 10.67%
2006 $22.21
4.68%
$20.09
5.72%
2007 $22.77
2.46%
$26.28
23.55%
2008 $25.43
10.46%
$29.66
11.40%
2009 $26.64
4.54%
$29.66
0.00%

 Source: Team Marketing Report


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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