MLB Clubs, Liars, Cheats and Thieves…

Since yesterday was a day off for the Phillies, I decided to do a little research on various aspects of going to a ball game. At times this may get complex and hard to follow, but I will try and make as easy as I can, hopefully, and as short as I can, which maybe a problem.

Some of the comments from different team websites, indicated that fans were un-happy with what the club has been doing by way of trades etc., in most cases the clubs are promoting the fact that they have to run the club like a business, so money is a deciding factor and a large contributor to that is the volume of fans visiting the ballpark. Obviously there are a number of other factors that allow clubs to generate income, but it seems a number of fans saying ‘if it was cheaper to go to the game then we would’.

Personally I think a number of clubs are pricing themselves to high, considering the city they represent, especially during this economic environment. I believe a lot has to do with the way a club is marketed, and the way the clubs evaluate the methods of income. 

The safe, comfort zone type income to assessed gross required, has been and still is, done by looking at how much income the club needs to generate from seating, looking at the history for the quantity of fans that come to games during a season, the different seats that are purchased, then from this they calculate the amount they need to generate from that specific seat. This is obviously a simplified methodology for, what I call ‘comfort zone marketing’.

It is my belief that it is time for some clubs to look at new (to them) innovative methods, to get fans to visit the ball games, and go for lower seat prices and work off generating a higher volume of visitors. I tried to see what different clubs were doing to encourage fans to the ball park and it seems, some of the struggling clubs use high dollar incentives on a less than regular basis, instead of lower cost incentives on a regular basis.

In doing this research I also ran into some other questionable information, with regard to the claimed numbers of attendees at ball games, this to say the least seemed to be very creative by some ball clubs, of which I will highlight later on in this post.

Below is the information I was able to gather, I can only assume the information is accurate with regard to attendances, the seat prices were taken from each clubs online website, some were easy to obtain others made it a lot more difficult to determine how much you would pay if you came on game day to buy a ticket. The low prices reflect, the cheapest seat or standing ticket I could find and the high price reflects being able to sit as close to the end of the dug out as possible. All prices are US Dollars.

The attendance numbers are through the first 50 home games of 2009, where a team hasn’t played 50 home games they had played sufficient to estimate to that number. All attendance numbers are in millions.

AL ————–Attd.——-Low——-High———NL ————Attd——-Low——-High

NYY               2.27           14             375             PHL              2.20          18             60

BOS              1.89           12             325             FLO              0.90          14            100

TB                 1.20           10              85               ATL              1.47           6               40

TOR*            1.18            9               62               NYM             1.96          23           450

BAL               1.20           8               55              WSH              1.19           5              75

DET              1.50           5                52               STL              2.03          21            115

CWS             1.37          23              57               CHC             2.01          20             230

MIN               1.42          10              52               HOU             1.49           7              39

CLE               1.13          9                70               MIL                1.99          8               48

KC                 1.20           7               43                CIN               1.23          5               72

LAA               2.02          21             200              PIT                 0.98          9               35

TEX              1.39           11             115              LAD              2.22          11            285

SEA              1.39           8                65               COL              1.62          15            100

OAK              0.89          9                 95               SF                 1.74          25            110

                                                                               ARI                1.28           5             145

                                                                               SD                 1.22          10             55

 

*Toronto prices are Canadian Dollars.

I reviewed a number of playback footage from different games to try and evaluate the accuracy of attendance numbers at different games, tried to get a feel for visiting fans and home fans, so the following is probably going to be the mother of all assumptions, but I am going to lay it out anyway.

 

Liars and Cheats:

They are so easy to pick on, and I probably shouldn’t, but I can’t help myself.

Yankees- I tried to be fair about this, but having reviewed a number of games it is clear that the attendance numbers are somewhat generous. Where they show near sell out crowds it is clear on the replays that there is an abundance of empty seats especially in the high dollar sections and yes at a number of games believe it or not the visiting fans seemed to out number the home fans. The other noticeable thing at the Yankees new stadium was the visiting fans seemed to occupy the majority of the high dollar sections. Especially for the games they played against the Phillies and Red Sox. So are they cheating the visiting fans, we know it’s a ball park visitors would attend, the city has other attractions plus the city is one of the easiest, if not easiest to visit, so why not cheat the visiting fans.

Mets- Although in some respects they appeared to portray much the same results as the Yankees they were not quite as bad, but then the overall attendance at the Mets games were lower than the Yankees, even for visiting fans.

Braves- You will also find them under thieves, simply because i don’t believe all the field seats by the visiting dugout are sold out for the season. They are cheating the fan base here because of what they were and not what they are now.

 

Thieves:

This one was kind of a tough one to ascertain, but I have to say those that I placed in this category it is basically for the same reasons.

Indians- They have the most expensive ball park to visit within the central division, the city does not have huge alternative attractions and the ball park is not that easy to get to by any mode of transport. The Cleveland airport sucks, directions from major highways/interstates suck, local signage to get to the ball park sucks, and parking is expensive for the area. Does not encourage or attract many visiting fans and there is not much in the way of encouragement for local fans to attend games. This is bad especially as it’s a NFL town 1st and an NBA town 2nd, leaving the Indians in a weak 3rd spot.

Marlins- Yes the club is doing well, but attendance is very weak, the low priced entry is reasonable, but the higher priced seats are to much for the stadium, it’s hot there, the concessions seem high in price, again not so easy to get too, its more expensive to get to since its vacation season most of the time, so area prices are geared to tourists. The club should have better incentives to attract more home and visiting fans, the visitor fans normally out number the home fans.

Cubs- Lots of visiting fans, although home fans do out number the visiting ones, the problem here is Wrigley is a well known ball park and they play on that, high prices for the name.

Braves- This one was had me concerned, for one I couldn’t get close to the seating area I wanted unless I was a season ticket holder, which confused me since the attendance there sucks. That or there driving visiting fans as far away from the field as possible so as too encourage home fans to buy the more expensive boxes.

 

Fair and Reasonable:

Well everyone will accuse me of being biased, so we’ll get this out of the way first.

Phillies- Seat prices all around are reasonable, home fans definitely out number visiting fans, the ball park is easy to get to, parking is easy, food and concessions are quality and reasonably priced.

Rays- Easy to get to via car or air, lots of parking around the stadium, nice enclosed stadium, considering they are reigning AL champions, pricing is fair, even high value seats put you right where you expect, concessions are reasonable. It is somewhat of a confusion as to why they don’t draw more attendance, some visiting teams will out number the home fans, but that depends on the team.

Pirates – Royals – Astros – All these clubs exhibited the same elements and have to be the best 3 clubs for visiting fans to attend. These have to be the cheapest ball parks to visit, they appear to be fan friendly for both home and visiting fans. These 3 clubs definitely get 5 stars as value for money ball clubs.

All other clubs- Seemed to be fair to both home and visiting fans, with no major distinguishing benefits that would make them great or make them a part of the Liars, Cheats and Thieves lists.

If you managed to read all this and follow it all, you probably have more patience than most.

~peter~

If you think that any numbers I have displayed here are grossly inaccurate let me know and I will do my best to verify the findings and correct any errors which may or may not be present. I will not however change my assessment of the way I  see the ball clubs, this is purely my opinion of how I see the club representing itself to home and visiting fans.

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12 Comments on “MLB Clubs, Liars, Cheats and Thieves…”

  1. Jane Heller says:

    I managed to read the whole post. Do I get a gold star? LOL. I do think the Yankees inflate the attendance numbers. But I also think some of the empty luxury seats are held by people who don’t necessarily use them. Which makes no sense, I know. (If I had one of those seats, I would never NOT use them.) There are a few corporate types I know who have season tickets right down in front but who spend the summer in Nantucket or the Hamptons and show up every now and then. They must count as being “in attendance” even though their seats are empty. They paid for them, right? What I do know is that when I traveled to ballparks in ’07 for my book, I’d go to games around the country and then read the attendance figures the next day and I’d say, “Are you kidding me?” They never seemed to match up.

    http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

    • devilabrit says:

      Jane- you deserve a gold star… I’m with you if I had a season ticket I’d use it, and I guess there is a lot more involved than I have shown here, who buys these mysterious tickets and are they connected to the club or are they giveaways for advertisers… I know we used to get some like that in Philly when I was there, freebees because of advertising with them…just all a bit sneaky I think…

  2. redstatebluestate says:

    Excellent reportage, Peter! The saddest thing (to me) is seeing highlights from Land Shark Stadium… seeing all those empty seats. On another note, a couple of years ago I happened to be in the Bay area for work and decided to shoot over to Oakland to see a game. They were playing the Royals, so I didn’t expect it to be a sell out, but I expected to not have that great a seat considering I went on a whim. I walked up to the ticket booth, said “I have 40 bucks. Can I get a ticket for that?” The lady in the booth put me behind home plate, second level. Unbelievable seats. I ordered a Fat Tire and enjoyed the game (even though no one was seated anywhere near me).
    –Jeff
    http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/
    http://mtrredstatebluestate.com

    • devilabrit says:

      Yep, A lot of the stadiums have good value during the week for walk-ups, mostly the one’s in the central AL and NL, I am suprised about the ‘A’s that was a good deal…. and Land Shark is a shame ’cause it’s a nice stadium and excellent value any day of the week… and what I didn’t cover was most of the big name clubs have this premium deal, depending who they are playing, now thats a rip off.
      ~peter~

  3. southernbelle says:

    Peter: I agree with you about the Yankees being “liars and cheats.” The commentators always point out how well the Yankees are doing with attendence this year, just because they know the fans know that the seat prices are ridiculous. Michael Kay always says, “The Yankees have the highest average attendence per game in baseball.” But he fails to mention that this “average attendence” is 10,000 less than last year. This year it is in the 40,000’s and last year it was in the 50,000’s. The Yankees make it impossible for a regular middle class family like mine to go to a ball game, and get decent seats without burning a hole through the wallet.
    About the cuteness, I don’t ever hear men rating players on that. It makes me laugh to know your wife does that, too. We girls can’t help it. 🙂 -Virginia
    http://southernbelle.mlblogs.com

  4. devilabrit says:

    Virginia- the attendance is down because the new stadium seats some 10,000 less than the old one, but when they say it’s in the low 40’s it should be full yet there is a lot of empty sections. and Yeah I know girls can’t help it…LOL

  5. phillies_phollowers says:

    Very nice job! A lot of the Yanks and Mets issues seem to stem from selling huge piles of tix to corporations and they don’t get used. Sad and a big waste. But yeah, WAY overpriced there. Been to a lot of different parks over the years and the Phillies are quite reasonable :O) Thank goodness!

    Jenn
    http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

  6. crazy19canuck says:

    Peter – It’s easy to get to Rogers Center…if you don’t drive. There is a TON of construction and one way streets around the park. The parking costs are high. BUT – the Go Trains and buses are easy to find. The train station is linked to the Park next to the CN Tower. You don’t have to walk on the street, so that’s good. I find that the prices are far to high for food and drinks (non alcholic) and aren’t really that good. The cost of a ticket is decent for most seats.
    If I lived closer to Toronto, I would get season tickets in a heartbeat.
    Ginny
    http://watercooler.mlblogs.com

  7. luckylori says:

    Very interesting post! The Angels are offering specials and very low priced tickets in a bid to up attendance. We haven’t seen deals like these since pre-2002. While it’s great for real fans, it is attracting an undesireable element to the stadium. We’ve seen these $3 ticket buyers with their smuggled alcohol and it’s a recipe for trouble. I also know plenty of season tickets holders who count on being able to re-sell half of their tickets in order to afford them in the first place and there just aren’t the buyers there usually are. On the other hand, I used to splurge a couple games a season on Diamond Club seats at $110 a piece. This season, those same tickets went up to $150 each. That 36% increase is enough to make a splurge seem stupid now. At least the Angels continue to have the best give-aways in baseball.
    Lori
    http://luckylori.mlblogs.com

  8. ibleedpinstripes says:

    As far as Yankee Stadium goes, they should be listed under the “Thieves” category. They had to blow up prices for tickets all around the stadium so they could pay back the billions of dollars they spent to make the place. And it doesn’t even seem to be a family-friendly ballpark anymore. It’s like the middle-class isn’t welcome there. Everything is so corporate. All the good seats there are owned by big businesses. It’s pretty sickening if you ask me. They just made it that way to make more money because apparently, that’s all they care about. I bet if teams concentrated more on the fans that were actually devoted to them, they would make a lot of money anyway.

    – Lisa
    http://perennialpinstriper.mlblogs.com/

  9. raysfanboy says:

    I love this article. Great research. The Rays were voted “Most Affordable Team” by ESPN this year. That’s kind of neat. Plus, we have the closest seats to home plate of any club in the league. We actually lack enough parking. Sellouts usually result in people having to be creative with where they park or parking at a place called The Pier and taking a shuttle over. But, I think that the Rays do a great job with prices. Parking is free if you have a carpool of 4 or more people. Otherwise it is $15. I am glad to see we’re not last in attendance as usual. Maybe things are looking up.

    Seriously, great article.
    http://raysfanboy.mlblogs.com

  10. devilabrit says:

    Thanks for the nice comments everyone, thought i might have upset some Yankee fans, but seems most agree with me, thats good and bad I guess..
    Lori- Interesting info on the Angels stadium, and the smuggling…
    Ginny- Nice to know not to drive to the Rodgers center, don’t be offended, but… it’s… it’s… it’s… in Canada….just kidding…


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