By Chris Melore
Major League Baseball is back and there’s nothing quite like the pageantry of Opening Day. While hope springs eternal for each fan’s favorite team, many Americans say they have little hope of actually seeing their ballclub play in person this year. A new poll finds money woes are still making it hard for the average worker to make ends meet. With that in mind, over one in three baseball fans (35%) say they won’t be buying any tickets to a ballgame in 2023.
The poll of more than 1,000 people, commissioned by PlayMA.com, also took a scientific look at the average worker’s salary in each MLB team’s market and compared it to the rising cost of going to a game in modern times. Overall, the average American would have to work for five hours to make enough money to attend three games in 2023.
It turns out that winning a championship may make fans happy, but it sure takes a bite out of their wallets. The study reveals that fans of the 2022 World Series champion Houston Astros have to work more than any other fan base to see a game in person. Along with being one of the most expensive tickets to buy, at an average price of $58.61, researchers find that the average hourly wage in the Houston area is just $20. This means Astros fans have to work nine hours just to make enough to buy three tickets.
Unsurprisingly, Yankees fans have to put in a full day of work just to get into Yankee Stadium. With average ticket prices of $61.59 (behind only the Boston Red Sox at $61.71), New Yorkers need to work for eight hours to buy three tickets — based on the area’s average hourly wage of $24.
Does anyone still have cheap tickets out there?
It’s not all bad news for fans of certain teams. In fact, fans of the San Diego Padres are not only blessed with wonderful weather, their team only charges $27.44 for an average ticket. Moreover, since the average wage in San Diego is $34, it only takes two hours to afford three tickets to see the Padres and their lineup of all-stars play.
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Fans of the Colorado Rockies also have an easier time of getting to the ballpark. The average worker in the area makes $31, while the average price of a Rockies ticket is just $25.51. While Colorado may be a longshot to make the playoffs, at least locals will only have to work for two hours to see a few games.
Not so suite
If you think the price to sit in the cheap seats is too much this year, you may want to look away when you see the prices of renting out a suite at a Major League Baseball stadium. Although some teams will rent out a suite for just $2,250 (the Oakland Athletics), the average price across MLB sits at a whopping $5,722 per game!
Those pricy New York Yankees sit at the top of this list, charging fans a staggering $15,000 to rent a stadium suite for a single game. For an average American making $24 an hour to afford that, they’d have to work for 78 days to sit in that luxury. Other teams with pricy luxury boxes include the Washington Nationals ($12,250), the Chicago Cubs ($11,500), and the Boston Red Sox ($10,750).
The spending doesn’t end of the ticket gate
While baseball may be trying to speed up the pace of play, there’s no doubt fans are going to have to bring a little extra cash for snacks while they watch a two to three-hour game. The survey finds the average fan ends up spending $51 once they enter the ballpark.
Most of that goes straight to food (43%), while some try to get better seats (35%), and one in four splurge on alcoholic beverages (25%). With baseball returning for another 162-game marathon, many Americans on a tight budget are already considering what they’ll need to sacrifice to see a game in person this year. To save up money for a ticket, 28 percent say they’d give up buying fast food and 25 percent would avoid going out to restaurants.
Interestingly, one in 10 say they’d sacrifice an entire spring break vacation to have enough money to attend a few baseball games in 2023.
To determine the average MLB ticket cost, PlayMA.com analyzed data from Team Marketing Report’s 2022 MLB Fan Cost Index report (the latest data available at the time of this report). To determine each city’s average hourly wage we used U.S. Census data on the median non-family household salary of the largest metropolitan city closest to each MLB team. For example, while the LA Angels stadium is located in Anaheim, researchers determined the average hourly wage based on the average salary of people living in Los Angeles. For the Texas Rangers, they determined the average hourly wage by determining the average salary of both Dallas and Fort Worth.
To determine the average suite cost for each MLB stadium PlayMA.com used data from the Suite Experience Group.
In January 2023, researchers also surveyed 1,055 people about the MLB and costs associated with it: 48% were female, 49% male, 2% non-binary/non-conforming, and 1% prefer not to respond. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 93 with an average age of 40.
Source: Study Finds
Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.
Top image: Petco Park in San Diego (Photo by Megan Ellis on Unsplash)
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