Why the Prices of Sports Tickets Vary So Much

It's not cheap to go to a major league sporting event. SeatGeek found that the average price of baseball tickets sold on its site in 2020 was $81, up 40% from the $58 average in 2019. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2019 was the last time fans were allowed to purchase tickets for seasonal games. And the other online ticket seller, StubHub, showed a 33% increase for baseball tickets, according to a 2021 news report.

Key Takeaways

  • Professional sporting events are expensive to attend between the costs of tickets, plus concessions.
  • Football and baseball tickets may be more expensive than hockey or basketball tickets, depending on the team and the game.
  • Dynamic pricing is used by professional sports leagues to sell tickets at a variety of prices determined by myriad factors.
  • There are many ways to purchase tickets, but online vendors may offer the most affordable options.
  • Elaborate stadiums and the high salaries paid to professional ballplayers add to the cost of tickets.

Expensive for Family Entertainment

Today's prices prove that heading to a ball game isn't cost-effective family entertainment. The average cost for a family of four to attend a game, purchase food and drinks, park the car and come away with a baseball cap or two is $253, according to the 2021 MLB Fan Cost Index by Team Marketing Report group.

However, that cost may be significantly different at your stadium. The highest price for a family of four to attend a game is charged by the Toronto Blue Jays ($461.70), and the most affordable is Arizona Diamondbacks ($144.25).

National Football League

If you're more of an NFL fan, prepare to pay up. According to the NFL Fan Cost Index, the cost of a family of four to attend a National Football League game in the 2021 season is $568.18.

One of the most expensive stadiums is MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Jets. The average price of a Jets ticket in 2022, according to SeatGeek, is $64 a person, and that's before you purchase four hotdogs, drinks, and souvenirs such as programs or hats.

The most expensive package for a family of four to enjoy a game is $778.56 to watch the Las Vegas Raiders, and the least costly tickets belong to the Cincinnati Bengals ($437.30 for a family of four).

Hockey and Basketball Games

The National Hockey League has an average ticket price in 2022 is on average $94, which means a family of four will pay approximately $376. According to data for SeatGeek, you'll pay the same average price for NBA games. If you want to watch a high-profile team like the Lakers play, that price goes up significantly to $159 on average.

The range between each sport's lowest and highest priced tickets is extensive. In football, the highest average price is more than twice the cheapest ticket price. The reason is that sports tickets are viewed as commodities. Just as the price of gold is based on a complex set of economic factors, the cost of game tickets includes a host of variables.

Some sports teams offer lower prices for family packages that include tickets, hot dogs, and drinks, but even those prices can be hefty for those on a budget.

Dynamic Ticket Pricing

Most professional teams use dynamic ticket pricing, a method that allows executives to re-price tickets based on real-world factors. Much like the airline industry re-prices tickets daily to reflect factors such as jet fuel price, ticket prices are adjusted in response to demand and other variables.

If an upcoming football game, for example, features a famous opponent or the opposing teams' significant stars, then ticket prices will rise, as well. If the team is in playoff contention or is playing another team that may get a post-season berth, box offices adjust prices for what they believe will be increased demand. Everything from winning streaks to weather conditions may affect prices.

How Dynamic Pricing in Sports Began

Dynamic ticket pricing means profits for franchises, and it gained traction about 12 years ago. In 2010, when the San Francisco Giants tried dynamic ticket pricing with only 2,000 seats in the furthest corners of the stadium, they reported selling 25,000 extra tickets and earning an additional $500,000 throughout one season. This was in 2010, so imagine what it would cost in 2022.

Studies show that franchisees make more money using dynamic ticket pricing. Because of that, nearly all professional sporting events now use this method over a decade after teams began to use dynamic pricing to sell seats.

What Does Dynamic Pricing Mean About Ticket Prices?

Dynamic ticket pricing allows teams to earn more money by selling tickets at a wide variety of prices and seating. This means a ticket in the "nosebleed" seats of a stadium is considerably less than mid-center seats. In addition, home games versus away games and popular opponents are also factored into dynamic pricing as well.

Why Are Sports Tickets So Expensive?

Tickets to professional sporting events are expensive for numerous reasons, including the rise in professional sports players' salaries and the construction of expensive stadiums. Even if a ticket is affordable, parking, concessions, and souvenirs drive up the cost of the experience of attending a sporting event.

Which Sport Ticket Websites Have the Lowest Fees?

Sports ticket websites like SeatGeek and StubHub usually offer affordable tickets by acting as secondary ticket marketplaces for people seeking to sell and buy sporting event tickets. Buying a ticket directly from a stadium or league is usually more expensive.

The Bottom Line

If the price of a game ticket seems high to you, it's likely the market that is to blame. Sports venues are now pricing tickets in the same way that secondary markets have done for many years. Based on factors including the quality of the team, the day of the week, weather forecasts, and the visiting team, ticket prices are adjusted based on the perceived value of the event. If you live in New York, your ticket prices are likely to be higher than most other cities due to the popularity of local sports teams.

Article Sources
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