May 6, 2004
Ticket Price Survey
If you've read the first two installments (Part I, Part II), you know the drill. To simulate the average fan's experience, I pick a mid-week game, then shop for tickets on MLB.com a few weeks in advance. (I made an exception for Anaheim, choosing their next available mid-week series--since their next two mid-week visitors are the Yankees and Red Sox, I thought the earlier date would still be more representative.)
First I shop for my imaginary family of four, whose ideal combination of price and view is usually behind the plate and towards the front of the upper deck. Then I pretend that my imaginary family just won the lottery, shopping instead for the best available block of four seats (as determined by MLB's ticket computer) anywhere in the ballpark. The seats available for the family of four serve as a rough proxy for the club's season-ticket and advance sales. Then I play Stranger Visiting Town, looking for a single seat. My expense-account alter ego shops for the best seat available through MLB.com, while his starving-student counterpart heads right for the cheapest seats in the park.
Next, I scan the club Web sites for promotions that could reduce the cost of my hypothetical fans' attendance, as well as unusual promotions and giveaway items. Finally, I write a snappy summary and prepare to start the process all over again with another division. Next up: the NL East.
Average ticket price: $16.60 (23rd in majors). 2003 attendance: 83.9% of capacity (5th in majors).
Tickets available on April 30 for Wednesday, May 5 night game against Detroit:
Four "casual fan" seats: Section V514, Row G, Seats 9-12: Upper View seats between home and third, $12 each
Mondays-Thursdays: $5 Terrace seats (down from $10 adult, $7 child) on day of game only
Overview: Angels owner Arte Moreno wants to fill his ballpark. If The Big A is not sold out, the cheap seats become even cheaper on the day of the game. Compare this to the Yankees, who charge more for all tickets on the day of the game, to encourage fans to buy in advance. The difference between Anaheim's weather and New York's may have something to do with this.
Average ticket price: $16.49 (24th in majors). 2003 attendance: 62.7% of capacity (13th in majors).
Tickets available on April 30 for Wednesday, May 19 night game against Detroit:
Four "casual fan" seats: Either Section 314, Row 14, Seats 16-19 (View Level seats between home and first, discounted to $2 each (regularly $8)) or Section 216, Row 3, Seats 15-18 (Plaza Infield seats behind home plate, $24 each)
Mondays-Thursdays: View Level tickets $2 through Pepsi promotion
Overview: The View Level (the entire upper deck) is cheap; the rest of the park isn't. If you want a good angle on the action without sitting in the nosebleed seats, you'll pay more than you might expect.
Average ticket price: $24.01 (5th in majors). 2003 attendance: 84.5% of capacity (4th in majors).
Tickets available on April 30 for Thursday, May 20 night game against Baltimore:
Four "casual fan" seats: Section 332, Row 15, Seats 13-16: View Reserved seats behind home plate, $17 each. (The May 19 game is part of the MasterCard promotion discussed below; going one day earlier could save our hypothetical family up to $45.)
5 Monday games: $17 View Reserved seats for $10
Ticket resale through stubhub.com: season tickets and premium seats available. Seattle residents not allowed to resell their season tickets for more than face value.
Overview: The local media is reaming the Mariners for not spending more in the off-season to improve the club. As the availability of prime seats on short notice suggests, Seattle's attendance has fallen off. This year, the Mariners are filling only 72% of their seats. If the M's continue to languish in last place, season-ticket holders will undercut the MasterCard promotion.
Average ticket price: $16.08 (25th in majors). 2003 attendance: 52.6% of capacity (19th in majors).
Tickets available on April 30 for Thursday, May 20 night game against Kansas City:
Four "casual fan" seats: Section 325L, Row 2, Seats 1-4, Upper Box seats directly behind home plate, $16 each (or Family Pack, below)
Every day: Family Pack: four tickets, four jumbo hot dogs, four 24-ounce soft drinks for $49 (Upper Reserved, regularly $77), $69 (Lower Reserved, regularly $109), or $99 (Corner Box, regularly $129)
Ticket resale through stubhub.com: seats being sold by season-ticket holders available.
Overview: The Fan Cost Index is especially inaccurate for the Rangers, who offer their Family Pack discount for every home game of the season except Opening Day. The Lower Reserved and Corner Box packages, for seats close to the field but down the outfield lines, are great deals for those who value proximity over a better angle.