In the winter of 1946, when New York Yankees' General Manager Larry MacPhail announced that he was raising Yankees' ticket prices by about 7.5% to help cover increased operating expenses, then-Baseball Commissioner A.B. "Happy" Chandler was among those who were, well, unhappy with the decision.

The timing was wrong and the fans, who "had stayed with sub-normal baseball during the war years", deserved a break, Chandler told the St. Petersburg Times.

Never one to shy away from a confrontation, MacPhail fired back. "The question of admission prices, by the terms of the American League constitution, is not a matter over which the commissioner has jurisdiction of any kind," he retorted in the Times.

Poor Yankee Fans
The first to introduce night games and television to Major League Baseball, MacPhail said his plan was to raise grandstand prices from $1 to $1.25 a seat, reduce reserved seating from $1.80 to $1.75 and up the cost of box seats from $2.40 to $2.50. (Looking for ways to cut costs this summer? Check out Save Money On Summer Bills for some hot tips.)

Of course, that was more than 60 years ago, when General Motors (OTC:GMGMQ) was trading for around $79 a share (sorry GM investors), but even after adjusting for inflation, Yankee fans still pay considerably more for a grandstand view today than they did in '46.

And box seats? From what I was able to gather on, the official site of the Bronx Bombers, those prices are part of a "don't ask, don't tell" policy that also includes the Legends, Jim Beam, DeltaSky360 and other private suites.

Which got me to thinking: In these tough economic times, are there any baseball teams offering a day at the ballpark that wouldn't make Chandler want to change his nickname to "Livid?" After all, according to an AP survey taken before the start of the 2009 MLB season, 45% of those polled felt baseball's biggest problem was that "it costs too much to attend a game."

"Like every election, it's the economy," New York Yankees star Mark Teixeira told the AP. "In tough times, disposable income may not be there."

Teixeira should know a thing or two about disposable income; in January, the first baseman signed a $180-million, eight-year contract to don pinstripes. (Not surprisingly, in AP-AOL polls conducted in 2005 and 2006, fans felt player salaries were baseball's biggest concern). (Need to buff up your bank account? Read Increase Your Disposable Income to learn how.)

Fighting for Fans
Some teams, however, are starting to get serious in the battle against empty bleachers. This year, the overall increase in MLB ticket prices was half of what it was the year before and 10 of the 30 Major League teams actually dropped their average prices, compared to the big, fat zero that lowered costs in 2008.

Obviously, few if any of those 10 teams are drawing comparisons to the '27 Yankees, but the Los Angeles Angels are presently leading their division and the San Francisco Giants are sitting atop the National League Wild Card standings. As Adam Sandler might say: "Not too shabby."

So, when looking for baseball's best bargains, I decided to consider not only what it cost to attend a team's home games, but also the club's current win-loss record. To determine cost, I relied on Team Marketing Reports' Fan Cost Index™ (FCI), a yearly survey that includes the following items:

  • Two adult average price tickets
  • Two child average price tickets
  • Four small soft drinks
  • Two small beers
  • Four hot dogs
  • Two programs
  • Parking
  • Two adult-size caps


The Top-Eight Deals of the Diamond
(Statistics through July 3, 2009)

Record: 41-39 (2nd, NL East)
FCI: $170.24 (14th in MLB)
Despite the lowest payroll in the majors, Florida appears to be exceeding expectations once again. Two-time World Series champs, the Marlins went 17-11 in June and seem poised to make a serious run at the playoffs behind young stars
Hanley Ramirez, Jorge Cantú and Josh Johnson.

Record: 41-39 (3rd, AL Central)
FCI: $169.81 (13th in MLB)
After recording 88 wins and just failing to capture the AL Central title last year, the Twins have been kind of a disappointment thus far in 2009. Still, with 2006 AL MVP
Justin Morneau in the lineup, how bad can a day (or night) at the ballpark be?

Record: 44-36 (3rd, AL East)
FCI: $165.40 (11th in MLB)
In the wake of nine last-place finishes in 10 years, the Tampa Bay Rays exorcised their "demon" in 2007 and the team, previously known as the Devil Rays, won the AL pennant and went to the World Series for the first time in franchise history. Sure, the club didn't have the cash to make the kind of offseason moves the Red Sox and Yankees - two division rivals - did. But, the last time I looked, Tampa Bay still has 2008 AL Rookie of the Year
Evan Longoria, as well as Carl Crawford, who appears to back at his best following a subpar and injury-riddled '08.

Record: 41-37 (3rd, NL West)
FCI: $161.00 (8th in MLB)
Since firing manager Clint Hurdle and replacing him with Jim Tracy on May 29, the Colorado Rockies have gone 23-9 and moved from the cellar to third place in the NL West. Leading the turnaround have been unheralded players such as Jason Hammel, who is 5-1 with a 3.47 ERA over his past eight starts, and Ian Stewart, who leads the team with 14 roundtrippers.

Record: 42-35 (2nd, AL West)
FCI: $150.64 (5thin MLB)
If you like big beers and you cannot lie, you're probably not going to be impressed by the fact that the Rangers' Fan Cost Index increased by less than the league average this year. That's because Texas reduced the size of its smallest beer (a component of the FCI survey) in 2009 - which saved the club $3, but cost beer drinkers 12 precious ounces of golden refreshment. On the field, though, it's hard to find fault with a team that is tied for the MLB lead in home runs and
ranks second in the AL in stolen-base percentage.

Record: 39-38 (3rd, NL Central)
FCI: $144.76 (4th in MLB)
Sure, they're only a shade above .500 right now, but the Reds have some of the best young hurlers in the game, including the very talented, albeit inconsistent, 23-year-old starter Johnny Cueto and 27-year-old reliever Nick Masset, who seems to get better each year. Plus, the Reds offer some of the best deals on hot dogs and soda in all of professional baseball, according to TMR.

Record: 42-37 (1st, NL Central)
FCI: $145.92 (5th in MLB)
Although the Brewers did raise ticket prices in '09 following their first playoff berth in 26 seasons last year, the team's FCI is still the fifth lowest in the majors. Led by young, exciting players like 25-year-old, 268-pound slugging sensation Prince Fielder and 23-year-old pitcher Yovani Gallardo, the "Brew Crew" looks like a force to be reckoned with this year and in years to come - all for just $145.92 for a family of four.

Record: 43-34 (1st, AL West)
FCI: $141.18 (3rd in MLB)
This is definitely the best value in hardball thus far. Through July 3, the Angels lead the Major Leagues in batting average (.279), while ranking second in stolen bases (79), eighth in slugging percentage (.432) and seventh in runs scored (393). On the mound, 26-year-old Jered Weaver has become the team's ace following injuries to Ervin Santana (16-7, 3.49 ERA in 2008) and Kelvim Escobar, who is attempting to return to fulltime duty after missing all of last year with a torn shoulder.

Yet, despite all their success, the average Angels' ticket will set fans back just $20.05 in 2009, down 3.8% from last year when the squad won 100 games along with the AL West crown.

The Bottom Line
America's No.1 pastime doesn't have to be the No. 1 drain on your wallet - as it turns out, there are some great deals out there this year for baseball fans. (Looking for some more summer fun that won't break the bank? Check out Budget-Friendly Summer Fun.)

Nothing contained in this publication is intended to constitute legal, tax, securities, or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment, nor a solicitation of any type. The general information contained in this publication should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from a licensed professional.
Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    A Day in the Life of a Hedge Fund Manager

    Learn what a typical early morning to late evening workday for a hedge fund manager consists of and looks like from beginning to end.
  2. Personal Finance

    How Tech Can Help with 3 Behavioral Finance Biases

    Even if you’re a finance or statistics expert, you’re not immune to common decision-making mistakes that can negatively impact your finances.
  3. Credit & Loans

    Pre-Qualified Vs. Pre-Approved - What's The Difference?

    These terms may sound the same, but they mean very different things for homebuyers.
  4. Options & Futures

    Cyclical Versus Non-Cyclical Stocks

    Investing during an economic downturn simply means changing your focus. Discover the benefits of defensive stocks.
  5. Active Trading

    An Introduction To Depreciation

    Companies make choices and assumptions in calculating depreciation, and you need to know how these affect the bottom line.
  6. Insurance

    Cashing in Your Life Insurance Policy

    Tough times call for desperate measures, but is raiding your life insurance policy even worth considering?
  7. Fundamental Analysis

    Using Decision Trees In Finance

    A decision tree provides a comprehensive framework to review the alternative scenarios and consequences a decision may lead to.
  8. Financial Advisors

    Are Alternatives Right for Your Portfolio?

    Alternative investments are increasingly making their way into retail investors' portfolios. Are they a good fit?
  9. Savings

    These 10 Habits Will Help You Reach Financial Freedom

    Learn 10 key habits for achieving financial freedom, including smart budgeting, staying abreast of new tax deductions and the importance of proper maintenance.
  10. Budgeting

    How Much Will it Cost to Become President In 2016?

    The 2016 race to the White House will largely be determined by who can spend the most money. Here is a look at how much it will cost to win the presidency.
  1. Can hedge funds trade penny stocks?

    Hedge funds can trade penny stocks. In fact, hedge funds can trade in just about any type of security, including medium- ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Are hedge funds regulated by FINRA?

    Alternative investment vehicles such as hedge funds offer investors a wider range of possibilities due to certain exceptions ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Should mutual funds be subject to more regulation?

    Mutual funds, when compared to other types of pooled investments such as hedge funds, have very strict regulations. In fact, ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Can hedge fund returns be replicated?

    You can replicate hedge fund returns to a degree but not perfectly. Most replication strategies underperform hedge funds ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Can foreign investors invest in US hedge funds?

    U.S. hedge funds are open to accredited investors. When they distribute profits to investors, those proceeds are taxed at ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Do hedge funds manipulate stock prices?

    Some economics professors think there is evidence of manipulation of certain stocks by hedge funds on key reporting days. ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  2. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  3. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  4. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  5. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
  6. Monetary Policy

    Monetary policy is the actions of a central bank, currency board or other regulatory committee that determine the size and ...
Trading Center