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April 30, 2004
Ticket Price Survey
AL CentralThis is the second installment of my six-part survey of how much fans can actually expect to pay for tickets to major league games. I choose a mid-week game, then shop for tickets on MLB.com a few weeks in advance. First I look for a block of "casual fan" seats: ideally, four behind the plate and towards the front of the upper deck. These are usually, but not always, cheaper than the "average price ticket" used by Team Marketing Report to calculate the Fan Cost Index.
Then I repeat the process three more times. Twice I look for the "best available seats," as determined by the MLB.com ticket computer--once for a family of four and once for a single fan. The seats available for the family of four serve as a rough proxy for the club's season-ticket and advance sales, while the best single-seat option shows where a fan who doesn't care about the cost can sit without paying scalpers' prices. Finally, I look for the cheapest seats to find the lowest a fan using MLB.com could pay to get into the ballpark.
To complete the survey, I check the club Web sites for promotions that could reduce the cost of my hypothetical fan's attendance, scan the club's promotional schedule for unusual events, and put it all together in the form below:
Chicago White Sox
Average ticket price: $21.56 (11th in majors). 2003 attendance: 54.0% of capacity (18th in majors).
Tickets available on April 27 for Wednesday, May 12 night game against Baltimore:
Four "casual fan" seats: Box 530, Row 5, Seats 5-8: Premium Upper Box seats behind home plate, $18 each
All tickets $4 cheaper on weekdays (Mon-Thurs), $5 more expensive during Cubs series.
Overview: Go on Monday or Tuesday if you can. Relative to its peers, U.S. Cellular Field is overpriced the rest of the week--especially on the weekends, when you'll pay $26-$28 to sit in the outfield stands.
Average ticket price: $20.29 (13th in majors). 2003 attendance: 49.2% of capacity (22nd in majors).
Tickets available on April 27 for Wednesday, May 19 night game against Chicago White Sox:
Four "casual fan" seats: Section 554A, Row E, Seats 15-18: Upper Boxes directly behind home plate, $19 each
None listed on Web site.
Indians Ticket Marketplace through stubhub.com: limited to sale of season tickets at face value or below.
Overview: Although the Indians don't discount their tickets, the 12 categories of tickets available to the general public offer almost any tradeoff between view/proximity and price a fan could want--and with the Tribe in a rebuilding phase, there are plenty of seats available wherever you want to sit.
Average ticket price: $17.90 (15th in majors). 2003 attendance: 42.6% of capacity (27th in majors).
Tickets available on April 27 for Wednesday, May 12 night game against Oakland:
Four "casual fan" seats: Section 324, Row 4, Seats 5-8: Upper Boxes behind home plate, $20 each
Thursdays: Upper Box ticket, small Pepsi and hot dog or pizza slice for $20 (the regular price for the ticket alone) Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays: $59 Family Value Pack: four Upper Reserved tickets, four hot dogs, four soft drinks for $59. (The Upper Reserved seats alone cost $48.)
Overview: This is the first park in which my hypothetical family had to pay more than the average ticket price to get a good view from the upper boxes. For a modern baseball-only park, Comerica is oddly designed, with thousands of cheap, bad seats in the outfield and down the lines.
Kansas City Royals
Average ticket price: $13.42 (28th in majors). 2003 attendance: 56.2% of capacity (16th in majors).
Tickets available on April 27 for Tuesday, May 11 night game against Toronto:
Four "casual fan" seats: Section 300, Row J, Seats 9-12: View Boxes directly behind home plate: $13 each
Eight "Dodge Buck Nights": hot dogs, small Pepsi and peanuts $1 each all game
Overview: As befits the club owned by Wal-Mart honcho David Glass, the Royals offer everyday low prices. What's more, there's hardly a bad seat in the house.
Average ticket price: $14.42 (27th in majors). 2003 attendance: 49.4% of capacity (21st in majors).
Tickets available on April 27 for Wednesday, May 12 night game against Seattle:
Four "casual fan" seats: Section 225, Row 5, Seats 8-11: Family Section behind home plate, $15 each
Tuesdays: $15 lower pavilion tickets for $7.50
Overview: The Metrodome was built as a football stadium, and it shows. The average ticket price is artificially low--the Twins have acres of bad seats available cheaply or at a discount (the heavily promoted lower pavilion seats are behind the left field wall, and there's another deck above them), but relatively few seats in the infield. Compare the Twins' seating chart to Kansas City's.
As part of the club's campaign for a new stadium, the Twins' own Web site describes the Metrodome as "one of the two worst baseball facilities in Major League Baseball by a considerable margin."