May 17, 2004
Ticket Price Survey
NL CentralAL East
The fifth installment of the series tours the majors' largest division, the NL Central. Four of the six clubs in the division have moved into new ballparks since 2000, yet the one that's virtually sold out for the season is the one that plays in a 90-year-old park built for the Federal League. The Reds, Brewers and Pirates are Exhibits A, B and C for the proposition that a new ballpark doesn't ensure on-field success.
Once again, I shopped the clubs' Web sites on MLB.com to see which seats a fan could hope to buy two or three weeks in advance, and how much a typical fan, or a typical family could expect to pay. That didn't work for the Cubs, who were sold out three months in advance, but everywhere else, typical fans are likely to pay less than Team Marketing Report's Fan Cost Index suggests they would.
Average ticket price: $28.45 (2nd in majors). 2003 attendance: 94.4% of capacity (3rd in majors).
As of May 11, there were no tickets available through the Cubs Web site for any home game before August 10.
If tickets were available, the typical "casual fan" seat, an Upper Deck Box seat for a "Regular" game (see "Variable Pricing" below) would cost $28. The cheapest seat, an Upper Deck Reserved, would cost $14.
On May 11, the cheapest block of four seats available through stubhub.com for the Tuesday, June 1 night game against Houston was a set of upper-deck seats down the right field line for $52 each, more than three times their face value of $17.
39 Prime Dates (Opening Day and most June-August games): tickets $17-$50, Terrace Reserved $26
Average ticket price: $18.17 (16th in majors). 2003 attendance: 69.1% of capacity (11th in majors).
Tickets available on May 11 for Wednesday, May 26 night game against Florida:
Four "casual fan" seats: Section 522, Row B, Seats 13-16, View Level seats behind home plate, $11 each.
26 Family Value Plan dates: four tickets and $15 in scrip for $47 (Mezzanine Level Infield, regularly $79), $55 (Terrace Line, regularly $95) or $65 (Terrace Box, regularly $115)
Overview: Even in their first season at The Great American Ballpark, the Reds couldn't sell 70% of their seats. Plenty of tickets available in all price ranges, and the Terrace Box Family Value Plan is a great deal for families who want to sit close to the field.
Average ticket price: $22.88 (8th in majors). 2003 attendance: 74.0% of capacity (7th in majors).
Tickets available on May 11 for Wednesday, May 26 night game against Chicago Cubs:
Four "casual fan" seats: Section 425, Row 6, Seats 18-21: View Deck behind first base, $10 each.
DON'T MISS: June 18: Jeff Kent Nesting Doll giveaway
11 Tuesdays: $8 Outfield Deck seats for $1 with two empty Coke bottles
Overview: The Astros are playing to almost 90% of capacity this season. Buy as far ahead of time as possible if you want halfway decent seats.
Average ticket price: $16.86 (21st in majors). 2003 attendance: 50.1% of capacity (20th in majors).
Tickets available on May 11 for Wednesday, May 26 night game against Los Angeles:
Four "casual fan" seats: Section 422, Row 9, Seats 1-4: Terrace Reserved directly behind home plate, $12 each.
DON'T MISS: June 17: World's Oldest Tailgate Party, for fans 60 and over.
Sundays: Four Terrace Reserved seats, four hot dogs and four small sodas for $36 (advance purchase only; tickets alone regularly $48)
Overview: The Brewers' attendance slide continues in 2004, yet all of the best seats in Miller Park were taken for the game I selected. This suggests that the club's best season-ticket holders remain loyal, but no one else is coming to the games.
Average ticket price: $17.08 (19th in majors). 2003 attendance: 55.4% of capacity (17th in majors).
Tickets available on May 11 for Tuesday, June 1 night game against St. Louis:
Four "casual fan" seats: Section 313, Row J, Seats 16-19: Grandstand seats directly behind home plate, $16 each.
DON'T MISS: July 18: Kids Sauerkraut Saul Mini Pierogy Bobble Day.
Wednesdays: Four outfield grandstand seats, four hot dogs and four Pepsi products for $44 with Pepsi coupon
Overview: The best ballpark in the majors, according to Jim Caple of ESPN. Too bad the team is to baseball what Three Rivers Stadium was to architecture. With a contending team and thousands of fans making noise, PNC Park would be the best place in America to watch a game. For now, take a seat in the upper deck behind the plate and enjoy the incredible view behind the diamond.
St. Louis Cardinals
Average ticket price: $23.76 (7th in majors). 2003 attendance: 71.4% of capacity (8th in majors).
Tickets available on May 11 for Wednesday, May 26 night game against Pittsburgh:
Four "casual fan" seats: Section 344, Row 21, Seats 1-4: Terrace Reserved tickets behind home plate, $10.50 each (50% off; see Wednesday promotion below).
DON'T MISS: August 3: Fishing Lure Night.
5 games: Upper Terrace Reserved games for $5 (regularly $9)
Overview: Playing in a 38-year-old stadium in the majors' seventh-smallest market, the Cardinals consistently draw like a "big-market" team. They charge "big-market" prices, too, but discounts are widely available for mid-week games.