What’s wrong with baseball?

Steroids? Overpaid players? Nope:

A new Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll finds that baseball fans think the high cost of attending games is by far the biggest problem in Major League Baseball right now.

The poll released Thursday found a whopping 63 percent of respondents said high prices are the game’s top trouble – up from 45 percent in a survey right before opening day. Worries over players making too much money or taking steroids lagged behind.

Google news search results for the following terms:

“baseball steroids”: 3500
“baseball player salaries”: 1769
“baseball high ticket prices”: 1100

So which is it? Are the fans complaining about the wrong things, or is the media writing about the wrong things?

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  1. YankeesfanLen said...

    MSM is writing about what it THINKS is important instead of the fans are thinking about.  C’mon, who couldn’t use an afternoon in the Bronx? However, if it’s that or the car payment…….

  2. Zunitalks said...

    That’s baloney.  If a team wins, they get the support of the fans.  The problem is that the teams do not have an equal chance of winning.  The sport needs a salary cap.  As it is now, every year: same teams in the front and the same teams in last place.  But the baseball commissioner has no guts and will not level the playing field for all teams.  That’s why, after being a full season ticket holder for 19 years, I cancelled my subscription this year.

  3. Michael said...

    YES! I would like to lodge a formal complaint about the $16 it costs me to see the game from great seats.

    Wait – what if the fans who are demanding lower-bowl front-row baseline seats find out that the first couple of rows in the upper deck are awesome and cheap? They might compete for my seats and I’d be screwed.

    Um, did I say that out loud?

  4. Albert said...

    Baseball doesn’t need a salary cap. Since 1990, MLB has fielded 12 different world series champions, the NFL has fielded 12 different finals champions, and NBA has fielded 6 different NBA champions.
    Without a salary cap baseball has had more parity then any other sport over the past 20 years. People who keep crying for salary cap are fans of loser franchises who are victims of poor ownership and dumb general management, not an unlevel playing field.

  5. Levi Stahl said...

    I was talking with my co-season ticket holders at Wrigley the other day, and we realized that in the ten years since we’ve been holding these seats, they’ve nearly tripled in price, from $10 per game to somewhere between $25 and $28, depending on the game. But that’s still not bad compared to the only true comparable, Fenway and Yankee Stadium—and the Cubs are drawing more fans than ever.

    My real worry is that the new ownership will jack up the prices of these upper deck seats, eschewing the Trib’s view that it’s important to keep some seats relatively cheap for your once-or-twice-a-year fans.

  6. JE said...

    For whatever it’s worth, Craig, if you news.google.com just “baseball ticket prices,” you get 3,006 hits.

  7. Millsy said...

    $15 gets you a FRONT ROW seat in center/right center field at Camden Yards on Monday and includes a FREE Boog’s BBQ sandwich ($8.00 regularly).  Yes.  Front Row (first come first serve).  For $5 on Friday you can get upper level seats.  I don’t know what people are complaining about.  If it were that big of a problem, they would stop going.  It’s down this year for obvious reasons…but people haven’t stopped going. 

    You can’t go to a movie AND get dinner for $15 each anywhere.  But you can get front row seats and dinner to the best baseball in the world for that price.  I’m curious what perspective people look at the ‘inflated’ prices with.  Yeah…the Yankees charged too much for their premium seating.  Consumers have the power to lower the price…teams have the right to charge whatever someone will pay for it.  Waa waa waa.

  8. Jason B said...

    “But you can get front row seats and dinner to the best baseball in the world for that price.”

    If you’re watching the best baseball in the world, you took a wrong turn on your way to Camden.


  9. Jack Marshall said...

    Do you really think there’s that much more to be written about “high ticket prices” other than “they’re too high”? The Google Search method has its limitations, no?

  10. Andy H said...

    I would guess the sportswriters are more likely to see themselves as the ‘guardians of the game’ and its traditions, and therefore be more upset at steroids.  Plus, most don’t have to pay for tickets and get free food (I think).

    On the other hand, most fans are mainly interested in a fun night out with their friends or family, and are more concerned with how much that’s going to cost them.

    I live far enough away from a major league team that it is always a special occasion when I get to go to a game, so ticket price usually isn’t an issue.

  11. RJK said...

    I have always wondered about the (in)elasticity of ticket prices vis-a-vis attendance. It seems clear to me that we haven’t yet achieved any sort of price equilibrium, as evidenced by the success of secondary markets such as Stub Hub and increases (or at least constancy) of attendance figures.  Now, I suppose that Stub Hub et al. appeal to the one-off ticket buyer, but ticket prices have far outpaced inflation.

    In fact, my opening day ticket to Jacobs Field in ‘94 was $14 for lower box.  Those same seats today are $48.  If we assume a 5% annual rate of inflation, that means prices should be about $29.10.

    At what point do we see ticket prices begin to affect attendance?  It hasn’t happened yet (at least not to my knowledge) in any major sports. 

    Using my data from above, an individual/business could have bought 4 pretty good seats to all 81 games for $4.5K.  Assuming the same 5% inflation rate, in today’s dollars, that would now be about $9.4K.  However, using the price now charged, those same seats would actually cost $15.5K- 50% > the inflation rate.  That means that, if these are corporate tickets, I would have need to increase part of my marketing/advertising budget significantly at a time when real revenues have not increased proportionately.  Moreover, the Jacobs Field data from above is likely lower than the stadia the require the purchase of some sort of PSL. 

    Since most of the good seats at every arena or stadium are season tickets bought by businesses at what point do these organizations begin to say no?

  12. Millsy said...

    Jason B…touche.  But there are lots of games against the AL East there.  And it’s a ‘top rated’ stadium.  But yes…rub it in :-(

  13. Bob Timmermann said...

    Sportswriters usually don’t get free food anymore. They might get free bottles of water or soft drinks or snacks, but they don’t get free meals anymore.

    As for stories on high ticket prices, I think the New York papers have been loaded with stories about ticket prices at the new ballparks.

  14. Keith Barber said...

    While players are making ridiculous salaries at ridiculous lengthy deals, I truly believe marketing is the problem. I grew up with baseball in the mid-west and at that time you always got all the scores and best plays of the games that day. It kept people informed, but more and more I see on the news is less and less info about MLB.
    People loosing interest in the game…..I guess we don’t believe there’s any interest anymore so why talk about it. Now soccer is emerging as an American sport and we really cover that well in Portland. I’m discussed to no end.

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