Major League Baseball has been setting new attendance records year after year as of late. However, if you take some of the photos being released the past few days to heart, that streak might end this season. A slew of photos have come out showing half to 3/4 empty stadiums around the league, even for weekend games.
It appears to be happening all over the league: New York, Chicago, Cleveland. According to Newsday.com, attendance at Yankees games so far this season are down about 6%. The Cleveland Indians couldn’t even draw 10,000 for a weekend game against the Chicago White Sox. It was even worse last night when the Indians hosted the Boston Red Sox according to one tweet by Jordan Bastian at MLB.com:
Attendance in Cleveland: 9,025. Lowest for Red Sox since they played in front of 8,488 July 5, 2000 at Minnesota.
So, is the lower attendance a function of fan apathy about their teams, or is there something else at work here. The average MLB ticket price this season sits at $26.91. Now consider a family of four going to an evening game. That’s 27 bucks times 4, or $108 just to get in the door. Once you add $15 for parking and $4-$5 hotdogs to the mix, it’s hard to get away from the ballpark without spending almost $200. How many times per season is a family of four expected to do that in our current economy?
Sure, unemployment was high in the US last season, but many people have finally changed their behavior to coincide with their economic situation. That means spending less in general on the non-essentials. It would have been much wiser for major league baseball to actually lower their prices this season to help fill in some seats. The higher attendance at lower prices would easily bring in more revenue than the current alternative.
It may be just another sign that big-league sports out of touch with their fans, but I would think that a reduction in ticket prices backes by a simple ad campaign would inspire more people to open their wallets. But hey, what do I know, I’m just the average fan.