It’s not just the Super Bowl. Catching a game has become unbearable

It’s not just the Super Bowl.  Catching a game has become unbearable

New York

Across the country, ticket prices have skyrocketed, making it impossible for many to go see their favorite team play without spending a fortune.

Main points of the story

Taking a family to a soccer game can easily cost hundreds of dollars

Ticket prices for the sport rose 15% year-on-year

Owners prefer to have a few wealthy patrons rather than a whole crowd

(And don’t even ask about Super Bowl tickets, which will be the most expensive ever. Hint: $9,000+)

Ticket prices have risen far beyond the rate of inflation over the past few decades, and much of this rise has been intentional. Teams offer a limited number of seats, and increased competition for those seats among people with disposable income drives up prices. Dynamic pricing of tickets on ticket resale platforms and new stadiums and arenas overbuilt with more luxury suites and premium seating have also pushed up prices.

Increasingly, this makes playing the game in person a luxury good. This is the way the owners of major sports teams and leagues want it.

“Tickets are not something everyone buys. What the NFL wants is a lot of money for the roughly 70,000 people in the city,” said Victor Matheson, a sports economist at College of the Holy Cross.

He said the teams “don’t care if families can’t afford the seats as long as they can still hook them up to watch TV.” Major sports leagues generate about two-thirds of their revenue from television deals.

Consumers have shifted their spending toward services and away from goods that sell more tickets to concerts, theme parks, sporting events and other experiences since the height of the pandemic. In sports, the impact has been enormous: Attendance records were broken at everything from Nebraska women’s volleyball games to Lionel Messi’s Major League Soccer games last year.

High demand has caused prices to rise due to these events, a trend that some analysts have called “functional inflation.”

Todd Kirkland/MLB Images/Getty Images

Truist Park is smaller than the old home of the Atlanta Braves, which puts pressure on prices.

Ticket prices for sporting events rose 15% in December compared to the previous year, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2023, the average price of an NFL ticket rose 8.6% to $120, according to a report by Marketing Team, a sports market research firm. a company. The cost of taking a family of four to a game and purchasing food, souvenirs and a parking spot is $631.

MLB tickets rose 3.5% to an average of $37 in 2023. Taking a family to a game costs $266.

It’s all part of a long-term trend.

Between 1999 and 2020, admission prices to sporting events rose more than twice as fast as overall consumer prices, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ticket prices have been slow to recover in 2021 as stadiums reopen after pandemic closures. Many teams also reduced prices to bring back fans. But prices jumped again.

Some consumers may also see game prices rise due to ticketing platforms. Ticketmaster and StubHub use sophisticated dynamic pricing algorithms that change minute-by-minute based on demand. Teams like the New York Yankees have taken a stake in ticket resale platforms. These clubs see an opportunity to make more money by taking a share of secondary ticket sales between buyers and sellers.

The top rides can “go up dramatically because you have software that allows tickets to be so flexible,” Matheson said.

Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports/Reuters

Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, home of the Super Bowl, is the third-smallest stadium in the NFL.

Despite the fact that seats are often empty in stadiums, teams are reluctant to sell empty seats at very low prices. They worry that selling cheap seats as teams become more desperate for fans in the stadium will lead people in the future to wait for lower prices before buying their tickets. So the seats are sometimes empty or covered.

For example, the closure of the upper deck in Oakland helped the Athletics raise ticket prices during the early 2000s. The team has limited the supply of tickets in hopes that this will create scarcity and give fans an incentive to purchase tickets in advance. (The Athletics now leave Oakland for Las Vegas.)

“Teams don’t want fans to think they can get tickets for nothing if they wait until the last minute,” Matheson said. “If fans thought that, they would never buy full-price tickets.”

Many teams have also built new stadiums and arenas or redesigned existing facilities in recent decades. These new stadiums, many of which were funded by taxpayers, were built with a lower seating capacity than previous stadiums, allowing teams to charge higher prices.

There are more luxury suites for corporations and wealthy fans than there used to be, said Dennis Coates, a sports economist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

One little-known reason for the boom, he said, is that individual teams in many sports don’t have to share sales of premium seats and luxury boxes with the rest of the league, making them a major source of revenue. Teams have to share other sources of income, such as money from lucrative TV deals.

“The new generation of stadiums are designed to maximize the number of good seats at the expense of large numbers of cheap seats,” Matheson said. “You design arenas for a superior experience. There’s no sense in trying to create arenas with loads of cheap seats.

The new New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, Florida Marlins and Atlanta Braves stadiums have at least 8,000 fewer seats than their previous stadiums.

Five of the NFL’s seven newest stadiums seat 71,000 or fewer.

The new Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, home of the Raiders NFL team and where the next Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers will be held on February 11, has a capacity of 65,000 fans. Relatively small, which ranks it 27th out of 30 stadiums in the NFL.

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