Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
The Least Surprising Thing Ever
2006-10-10 00:32
by Mark T.R. Donohue

The Rockies will raise ticket prices for next year. According to team president Keli McGregor, 35 days spent in first place during (the first half of) 2006 justifies a 10% jump. The Rockies' strategy, as it has been for the last several seasons, is to make as much as possible from wealthy season ticket buyers (whose seats will remain pristinely empty down the stretch) while offering as little incentive as possible for po' folks like you and me to buy walkup seats. Will you be able to get Rockies-Yankees tickets? No, you will not, as the Rockies have launched a scheme to let the same people who show up for Opening Day, the Cubs, the 4th of July fireworks, and no other games buy those tickets before you can. I went to three or four A's games a week when I was in college because the folks at the Coliseum, understanding the concept of sunk costs, would sell anybody with a student ID perfectly good upper deck seats right behind home plate for three bucks. Coors Field offers the Rockpile, certainly, but why should I sit in a centerfield upper deck with benches while there are tens of thousands of empty seats in the mezzanine and main upper deck? Heck, thanks to scalpers overestimating demand, you could get fantastic seats at Wrigley Field this summer for less than the cheapest Coors tickets that actually provide a full view of the action on the field. It's really time for the Rockies to reconsider their ticket strategy.

I have zero confidence in my gut feelings for either of the championship series, but I like the Mets and the A's. I think Detroit's pitching is slightly better than Oakland's but I think that the A's lineup is better constructed to eke out runs against good pitching than the Tigers' is. The Mets have a clearer edge over St. Louis. If the games are all relatively high-scoring for playoff contests like the games in the New York-Los Angeles series were, the Mets have the obvious advantage. If the Cardinals can keep the games low-scoring, the Pujols effect comes into play. You may have noticed this, but Albert Pujols is good. He can do stuff. If St. Louis is to complete a shocking World Series run, Albert will have to do some sick stuff in the NLCS. I wouldn't put it past him.

I got a voicemail from my mother in Chicago last night. Apparently after the Bears' cakewalk victory over Buffalo on Sunday she went online to see if she could get my father and I Super Bowl tickets. Then she found out they were $5000, so she got us t-shirts instead. Thanks, Mom.

2006-10-10 10:53:49
1.   rbj
"My mom went online and all I got was this lousy t-shirt."

That's the nice thing about minor leagues; the past two years I saw the Mudhens win back to back IL championships. Ticket prices for every seat: $8. 32 oz. beer: $6.

2006-10-10 12:06:46
2.   Linkmeister
One of the reasons Hawai'i lost its PCL franchise was that the state raised the parking price at Aloha Stadium to $3 while the GA ticket price for baseball was $2.50 (this was the mid-1980s). Attendance, never more than about 2,500 in a 50,000 seat stadium, dropped like a rock.
2006-10-10 13:35:22
3.   heyman800
Your story reminded me of the Marlins last offseason. They raised ticket prices shortly after massively cutting payroll. It was an insult to the 5000 people that show up to the games
2006-10-10 14:21:59
4.   Robert Daeley
1 Mmmmm... 50-cent Fridays... :)
2006-10-11 04:06:34
5.   joejoejoe
I read a Bill James quote somewhere that said there is enough talent to field 3 or 4 times the number of 'Major League' type teams that exist. Think about how many major league players that make the league minimum of $327,000. A baseball challenger league could field equal quality teams for $10 million dollar payrolls. The average rookie would still make more money and not be tied into the restrictive arbitration and free agency limits of MLB. A new league pay new talent better than MLB and then post the contracts (or not) like the Japanese leagues or soccer teams do all over the world. The LA Coliseum hosted the Dodgers for 4 years including the 1959 World Series with RF fence of 250ft. and a 60ft screen. Baseball can be played perfectly well in football stadiums. Instead of these billionaires buying MLB teams I'd love to see one of them start their own league. You could field an entire 16 team league, sign equitable leases in public stadiums, and play a lot good basebal for less than the cost of one MLB franchise.

That's how ticket prices will come down - having a competing independent league team with top talent playing in Folsom Field.

2006-10-11 04:12:11
6.   Mark T.R. Donohue
5 Only if they call it the XBL, have Jesse Ventura calling the games, nicknames on the uniforms, and decide who gets last at-bats with a footrace before the national anthem.
2006-10-11 05:10:47
7.   joejoejoe
It sounds like a kooky idea but the American Association competed for 10 years with the National League in a country that had 20% of today's population and was a lot poorer.

Minor league baseball is fun but it's not competitive enough because the MLB teams use it as an instructional league. I like my baseball cut throat, not with the occasional tie and 90 pitch limits. The best thing that could ever happen to baseball would be to adopt a relegation system like soccer teams have across the world. The worst two MLB teams get dropped to AAA, the top two AAA teams advance to the MLB and on and on for each level of league. If baseball did that you would have healthy internal competition and you wouldn't need a rogue league to challenge the status quo. It would have internal pressures to weed out the bad owners because falling into those last two spots means you are eating about $100 million in franchise value dropping to AAA. Now THAT'S competition.

It sucks to have high ticket prices - I used to live in NY and you could always grab an upper deck seat for $10 or a bleacher seat for less. But teams want to eliminate that and go to a 'scarcity pricing' model which it totally sticking it to the modest income fan. I wouldn't care but teams get massive public subsidies and then institute policies that target an elite fanbase. The Politiburo in the Soviet Union was more democratic then modern MLB.

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