Seats of Gold

Sportswriter Wright Thompson tried out the "Legends" section at the new Yankee Stadium. The seats originally went for $2,500. Now they are mostly empty, even though the price has dropped to $1,250. In telling the story of how such an exclusive luxury section came to be, Thompson relates the changes in baseball with the state of the economy.
A recent poll discovered an unsettling trend emerging for the first time. American families whose household income is $75,000 or less now have zero dollars of discretionary income. According to Luker, that means about 75 percent of the country can never responsibly afford to go to a live professional sporting event. Franchises want them to be fans, to buy the gear and pull for their teams and watch the telecasts the leagues are paid billions for. But they don't need them to come to their stadiums. There are, right now, plenty of rich people who love games. The prices reflect that. The reason sporting events cost so much now, Luker's research shows, is because they are designed to be affordable only to those making $150,000 or more a year.

This wasn't always true. Ten years ago, it was cheaper to go to a baseball game than to a movie in half of the big league markets (take away parking at the game, and it was cheaper in every market). Today, there isn't a single city in America where it costs less to go to a major league game than to a movie. Everywhere we turn, we see examples of the collapsing middle class. This is where that issue lives in the world of sports, and it has predictable consequences.

You don’t have to be a baseball fan to relate to this story of a business choosing short-term profits over long-term growth. Link -via Metafilter

(image credit: Julie Jacobson)

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While I agree with what DrDan is saying, I would say it in a more polite, family-friendly fashion. I also agree his comment misses what this post is about.

I grew up near Cincinnati and had the Big Red Machine to root for. My mom would buy tickets (for her and I, plus a friend or two) for my June birthday, plus the Reds would give out a few pairs of tickets to local kids who did well in school. This meant I got to see the Reds maybe 3 or 4 times a year at Riverfront Stadium.

What turned me off of baseball was the player's strike--in 1981. Since then, I have not cared much about pro baseball; living near Chicago has not helped to change this...

I, too, find the prices at MLB parks to be outrageous. However, the prices at the minor league baseball teams are much more affordable and the games are much more enjoyable. It is great to see two minor league teams play and all the players have a love of the game (and true, the desire to go pro), plus all the things they do for fans (sign autographs before and after the games, allow fans to run the bases after the game, etc.).

If the MLB thinks it can survive by only catering to the uppermiddle and upper class, then more power to them. I agree that they are shooting themselves in the foot, but they will have to find that out. Nothing like watching a ball game on TV and seeing a half-empty stadium.
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Skipweasel, it's because people set up their lives as if the income will always be there. Too much house, too much commute, too many cars, etc. And especially too much debt!

People who always live a little below their means have a cushion when hard times come. While you and I paid off our houses by doing without some luxuries, many people just consider mortgages to be a regular expense forever.
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How can you have an income of 75k and no money left to spend? Four of us get by on a small fraction of that but still manage to enjoy ourselves. Owning the house helps, I guess, but even so it seems like people want too much.
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DrDan is the new manager of the Yankees, and this story makes me want to go see a AAA team game.

I love MLB games and all, but the money aspect of it all is a put-off. I just like sittin' with friends, eatin' peanuts, drinkin's beers, and watchin' a game.
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