That pain you've felt in your wallet attending games over the last few years is real. And that is one reason people are staying away from the ballpark.
Baseball Prospectus' Rob Arthur crunched the numbers and found that approximately 40% of baseball's attendance decline is due to increases in ticket pricing (link $$) over the last five years. For those without BP memberships or the tl:dr crowd, Arthur breaks down some of the key findings in a tweet thread.
"A sad finding in this article is that the effect of rising ticket prices doesn't reduce attendance enough to offset the additional revenue they get from charging their remaining fanbase more $$$," Arthur tweets. "[W]hich means that it's in owners best interests to continue increasing ticket prices, further reducing MLB's attendance while juicing revenue. There's really no sign of that leveling off any time soon considering some teams charge >2x the median ticket price."
In short, owners found that they can make more money on the luxury price-paying fans at the expense of the value-seeking ones. Arthur says that while attendance has fallen by 5%, owners are making 10% more per ticket.
Now, the average family of 4 is actually paying $23 more per visit than they did as recently as 2015. I would like one loan to take my family to watch the baseball men, please. But really, prices keep rising, water is wet, right? This isn't unexpected.
While teams offering things like dynamic pricing, Baseball America's JJ Cooper reminds us that it isn't designed to fill the ballpark.
"Dynamic pricing, etc. is not about getting the most fans into the ballpark. It's about getting the most revenue possible," Cooper tweeted, adding that organization have dedicated Moneyball analytics teams that are charged with optimizing returns.
The Twins, in fact, are looking to add an analyst for their Business Intelligence team. This position's role includesassisting "in the execution of industry specific business analysis and predictive modelling efforts including, but not limited to; variable ticket pricing, churn modelling, baseball ticket sales forecasting, dynamic ticket pricing, event giveaways/promotions, ticket discounts and secondary market ticket sales (i.e. Stubhub)."
At the end of the day, this is big business. It shouldn't surprise anyone. All businesses are interested in maximizing profits. But the reality is that owners, while making a profit in the present, may be costing themselves in the long run as they price themselves out of the middle market (maybe with the exception of the Oakland A's who actually gave kids free tickets last September). This feels like the classic finite mindset of business rather than the infinite one. If families aren't attending games as regularly anymore, teams may lose out on fans (and profits) down the road.