The Baltimore Orioles recently rolled out a new ticket package at Camden Yards that allows adults to get 2 extra tickets for $0. Yep, you read that right, $0. An adult who purchases a ticket for the upper deck seating at Camden Yards receives two additional tickets for children under the age of 9.
Ticket prices for baseball parks have gotten out of hand. It is no longer affordable for families to attend games in the majority of ballparks across America. How can baseball be a family sport if you can get families through the gates? The Orioles Organization has the right idea with Kids Cheer Free. Baseball’s attendance has dropped over 5 million people in the last 10 years, to land at 73 million last year, but Major League Baseball’s revenue has gone up. Sure media deals and sponsorships will do this, especially for the large-market teams such as the Yankees and Red Sox. But can a sport really remain healthy if the attendance keeps decreasing?
Baseball has become a game for the uncommon people. Ordinary, middle and low class families can’t afford to go to games. The cheapest physical seat for a game at Fenway on a Saturday (a Tier 3 game because Tier 4 and Tier 5 only have week day or some Sunday games) is in the upper bleachers of Fenway Park for $25 each. A family of 4 has to spend $100 on tickets alone. The standing room at Fenway is cheaper but good luck getting kids to stand for a 9 inning game.
Not only have the Orioles given families a bargain deal on tickets, they’ve also lowered the cost of food. They will have $1.50 hot dogs and $4 beers. Orioles executive vice president John P. Angelos, and son of owner Peter Angelos, said, “We don’t want to tell people we’re pricing you out before you walk in the door,” Angelos said. “Or once you’re inside the door we’re gonna price you out yet again. The last thing you want is for your customer to feel as though you’re treating [him or her] like a captive audience. It’s not an airport. We have to have the anti-airport experience.”* Angelos understand that you shouldn’t trick people into go to the park in order to get them to spend a fortune.
In my blogs I have been a huge advocate for the need to get fans to the ballpark. Baseball is a family sport. People become fans through their families, whether it’s as a child watching the games with their parents (like me) or as a parents taking their children. No one becomes a fan by watching a game on television. It’s experiencing the sport first hand in a stadium that makes you a fan.
Coming up with creative (and inexpensive) ways to get people to the ballpark is what baseball executives should be prioritizing in their organizations. If you focus on getting the fans with the well lined pockets to the park there won’t be a sport left in ten years.
Baseball is America’s past time because America is a melting pot. It is made up of all different kinds of people, from different backgrounds and social standings, and at the ballpark they could all come collectively on common ground, as fans. Why should this change?