The economics of Yankee tickets

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A contextless table of Yankee ticket prices by year has elicited a small reaction from a few bloggers. WasWatching tossed up a brief post on the subject and iYankees noted the cost of going to the game.

The AP presented in the information in a way that suggests that Yankee ticket prices have, by and large, gone up for over forty consecutive seasons now. The tickets for field boxes were $3.50 in 1967 and now cost $250. Except for consecutive years in which the prices were held steady, then, the cost to attend games has been on the rise since the days of Lyndon Johnson, right?

Well, note quite. Take a look at this chart with a third column I added using inflation data. A graph put together by Tommy follows the table.

Year Ticket Price 2008 Dollars
1967 $3.50 $22.18
1968 $4.00 $24.33
1969 $4.00 $23.07
1970 $4.00 $21.82
1971 $4.00 $20.91
1972 $4.00 $20.26
1973 $4.00 $19.07
1974 $4.00 $17.18
1975 $5.00 $19.67
1976 $5.50 $20.46
1977 $6.00 $20.96
1978 $6.50 $21.10
1979 $7.00 $20.41
1980 $7.50 $19.27
1981 $7.50 $17.47
1982 $8.50 $18.65
1983 $9.00 $19.13
1984 $9.00 $18.34
1985 $9.75 $19.18
1986 $9.75 $18.83
1987 $10.00 $18.63
1988 $11.00 $19.68
1989 $12.00 $20.49
1990 $12.00 $19.44
1991 $12.50 $19.43
1992 $14.50 $21.88
1993 $16.00 $23.44
1994 $17.00 $24.28
1995 $25.00 $34.73
1996 $25.00 $33.73
1997 $35.00 $46.16
1998 $45.00 $58.44
1999 $50.00 $65.53
2000 $55.00 $67.61
2001 $62.00 $74.11
2002 $62.00 $72.96
2003 $72.00 $82.84
2004 $80.00 $89.65
2005 $90.00 $97.55
2006 $110.00 $115.51
2007 $150.00 $153.15
2008 $250.00 $250.00

ticketpriceslog.PNG

A funny thing happens on the way to 2008. It now appears as though ticket prices for the Yankees remained steady, in 2008 dollars, for nearly thirty seasons. In 1967, it cost $3.50 to purchase a Yankee field box seat. That’s $22.18 in 2008 dollars. Twenty four years later, in 1994, it cost $17 to purchase the same ticket or $24.28 in 2008 dollars. In 1994, $3.50 from 1967 would get you $15.53. Ticket prices, in other words, were tracking inflation.

The spike — and we seem to still be in the middle of it — occurred following the 1994 season when ticket prices went through the roof. All of a sudden, the Yankees were good, the Yankees were popular, and the Yankees were very, very expensive. In 14 years, Yankee ticket prices have increased by a factor of 10 from a 2008 value of $24.28 in 1994 to $250 in 2008. That’s crazy.

Meanwhile, some bloggers and fans always ask why, and for that, we turn to the market. The Yankees are selling tickets at a face value of $250 per, and they’re selling out the stadium. Tickets for premium games sell on StubHub for well over that value. The market, in other words, can afford it, and the Yankees are just trying to capture their revenues.

If you can sell out a stadium at $150 a ticket and at $250 a ticket, what owner wouldn’t charge the higher amount? The fans, of course, are the ones who lose out, and it times like these when we remember that baseball is a business. It’s all about the bottom line.

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  • Jon W.

    Ben, thanks for the ticket prices in 2008 dollars. Very interesting. As much as I might not like paying outageous amounts for Tier reserved seats by the foul pole, nobody is holding a gun to my head. If we don’t like it, we can just stop buying tickets. Simple as that.

    • mg

      I do think there’s truth to the idea that some people will take exactly this attitude and stop buying seats. Those people, I’m betting, will overwhelmingly do so because they can no longer afford to continue attending games rather than because they simply don’t want to. At that point you’re denying access to lower income fans which is a shame at a minimum. Not only that but you are specifically denying access to many of the people who live right around the stadium and put up with parking nightmares, crowded trains and packed streets with little return. That’s the real shame. We almost don’t deserve to call ourselves the Bronx Bombers when many residents of the Bronx can’t afford a decent seat.

    • http://macsfactor-bronx53ny.blogspot.com/ G. Mac

      Kudos to Ben and Jon W. You guys both nailed it. The free market works. Nobody is holding anyone hostage, and the Yanks are seating 50 thousand every night. The only sad thing is it doesn’t work for little kids. I used to find dimes on the sidewalks before I was old enough for PS 79 in the Bronx. Five dimes and I had me a bleacher ticket. Five more and I had round trip fare to YS… with a dime to spare. Even allowing for inflation… how’s a kid supposed to find 50 BUCKs for a bleacher seat? Robbing a bank?

      I have found cheaper seats for Yankee games. Saw them in San Diego… $22 for seats behind first base, club level… I was a season ticket holder in SD… 40 GAMES… $880! The Yanks sold out 66,000 seat Qualcomm three days in a row. Saw them in Kansas City for $30, behind third base field level. The Yanks sold 38,000 strong that night. Mariano got the loudest ovation of either team… and that was just walking out to the bullpen before the game!

      I am a lifelong, die-hard Yankee fan. I suffered through the lean, years when somebody thought Roger Maris for Charlie Smith was a good idea. I’m glad they are all the way back. But the Mick will be back at the Stadium before I will at these prices. I’ll be happy to watch them on my laptop, as i did last year… $10 for the stretch run, playoffs, and coronation. I’m just sorry that I’ll never get to take my grandkids to the new YS. They will see the Yanks one day, because they live in San Diego!

  • Rusty John

    I think that those who are upset about the price of a Yankee ticket should be more upset that in twenty years the Federal Reserve and government have made our dollar worth only half of what it was then. And to think I just hopped on this site to escape the reality of the news showing Congress & the President’s unbalanced budget proposals and the Fed printing more worthless money to bail out bankers all of which lead to the devaluation of our dollar. And then….living proof on River Ave Blues. You guys should have Ron Paul write a column on how the gold standard would prevent ticket prices from increasing.

    • http://ibleedblueandwhite.blogspot.com Jamie

      Haha Ron Paul. What a jokester that man is.

      Thanks go out to Ben for putting this all into “real” perspective. Also props go out to Steve and IYankees for facilitating this talk to begin with. Ben pulling this out is the reason I stop at RAB.

  • http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=56352514 Jamal G.

    I just paid (well my father did, but I found them dammit) $295 for four RCF Bleacher seats on StubHub.com. This is actually my first ever game at Yankees Stadium (which is a shame since Im 19 and Ive been a fan since I started playing baseball during my elementary years) so I don’t know if that is a steep price or no.

    BTW, the tickets are to the April 16th game vs. the Red Sox. My first game ever at Yankees Stadium and it’s against the Sawkz, only thing that would be better is a Buchholz/Hughes match up.

    • steve (different one)

      it’s great that you will finally get to the stadium, it really is a memorable experience.

      but $75 for a bleacher seat in April is a little nutty. chalk it up as the price for a great memory i guess.

    • dan

      If you paid for a ticket to a regular game on stub hub (not red sox) it would cost much much less. But considering the fact that it’s your first time there, the game should be special and worth the steep price. Right field bleachers are actually a decent view– I try to avoid left field like the plague

      • http://ibleedblueandwhite.blogspot.com Jamie

        Left Field is just painful. You can’t see a fucking thing

        • http://macsfactor-bronx53ny.blogspot.com/ G. Mac

          Believe it or not the same thing is true at new Busch Stadium. Awful. A billion dollars just doesn’t go as far as a million used to.

  • Rusty John

    My old man used to be a cop at the 44 in the 70s and sneak us in for free- makes me think he was kind of cheap for not dishing out 6 bucks for a ticket- not that I’m complaining about watching the Bombers for free.

  • Relaunch

    It is really sick how much these prices have gone up. I have had season tix for a good amount of time now and the prices of the games and how much the players are making is getting to the point of frustration. I do understand I am chosing to buy these and go to all these games but they are trying very hard to turn away the average family from attending more than 1 game a year.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    It’s not the Yankees charging $250 for a ticket. It’s what the market will bear.

  • Nochim Zalent

    I own two seats in the now $250/ticket area. When I complained about the increase two months ago, the person I spoke with at Yankee Stadium told me that I should put some of the Red Sox and Flushing games on StubHub and get 10-times face for them because it was now legal to scalp in NY. He also recommended contacting a major bank or business like Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan and sell them half the season for double-face.

    There is definitely something wrong when someone who works for the Yankees is telling season ticket owners to scalp their own seats so they can afford them.

  • http://yetanotheryankeeblogger.blogspot.com/ Wolf Williams

    Interesting data, and thanks for posting that.

    However, I think the point some fans are making, when they complain about escalating prices, is more about who can afford those tickets, not the prices themselves.

    Yankee Stadium holds what, 57,000 people? That’s a small number when placed against the population of the tri-state area surrounding New York City, and against the number of people who make pilgrimmages to the Bronx just to get to that first Yankee game, and maybe the only Yankee game, of their lives. Most people would say that a few hundred bucks is a small price to pay for a one-time deal which provides a lifelong memory. And I would bet that if you took a survey on any given day at the Stadium, the majority of people in attendance make fairly high incomes. So I think the complaint is more about who can afford to go, not how much it costs to get there. Of course the market will support the prices, because there are far more than 57,000 people in the tri-state who make excellent incomes. The problem is that regular Joes have been priced out of the Stadium.

    And I’m not arguing that that is good or bad. And in fact, not being an economist or a professional statistician, my supposition could be dead wrong. But I think most fans who bitch about ticket prices are the fans who realize that going to a MLB game in New York is now something you have to budget for, maybe months in advance, when in years past it was something you could do on a nice day with just a few extra bucks found in one of your pockets.

    God bless the free market, but letting the ticket prices be determined by market forces only does leave the lower income fans in a serious bind. And those fans are the one making the complaints about the tickets. And it’s usually those fans who make the clubs richer by buying the hats, the jackets, etc. Who among us real fans hasn’t sat at the Stadium next to some upper income jacka$$ who had no idea what he was watching, he was just happy to be on his cell phone telling all of his clients where he was calling from? That’s the real disgrace of higher ticket prices.

    • steve (different one)

      And it’s usually those fans who make the clubs richer by buying the hats, the jackets, etc.

      considering all merchandise revenue is put into a pool and split 30 ways, the Yankees are probably smart to try to maximize the ticket revenue, instead of worrying about who is buying hats and jackets.

      i sympathize with your position, but those are the facts.

      also, i’ve sat next to lots of “lower income” people who talk on their cell phones all game and “have no idea what they are watching”.

      this notion that people with less money are automatically better fans than people with more money strikes me as a baseless generalization. there are good fans/bad fans, smart fans/stupid fans up all up and down the economic spectrum.

      • http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=56352514 Jamal G.

        That is so true, hell look at Mike Francesa. He makes about a $1M per year for his radio show and he’s been a Yankees fan since his 40 + year old fat ass was a kid. Yet I’m a 19 year old who’s only occupation is a student at John Jay but I can give you a pretty decent Top 15-20 Yankees Prospect Ranking. Mike Francesa on the other hand who as access to gobs of baseball scouts and sources can’t even give you one reason why Joba Chamberlain fell to us in the supplemental round and says things like “Joba will lose his aura if he’s put into the starting rotation” on the air.

      • http://www.thebronxzoo.wordpress.com iYankees

        i agree that the generalization you speak of is ridiculous, but, you saying that you’ve sat next to “lower income” people sounds pretty stupid… talk about generalizations.. yikes.

        • steve (different one)

          whatever. i was making a direct reference to this sentence:

          Who among us real fans hasn’t sat at the Stadium next to some upper income jacka$$ who had no idea what he was watching

          that’s why i put “lower income” in quotes.

          • mg

            Still, as you make the game accessible to fewer and fewer people, chances are your excluding a larger and larger percentage of the true fans. I’ll definitely tell ya, the people in the bleachers or high in the Tiers tend to know their baseball better than the people in the field boxes.

      • http://breakingballs.riveraveblues.com Tommy

        “considering all merchandise revenue is put into a pool and split 30 ways, the Yankees are probably smart to try to maximize the ticket revenue, instead of worrying about who is buying hats and jackets.

        i sympathize with your position, but those are the facts. ”

        Steve, I definitely understand where you’re coming from. But the only problem is, there is an exception for merchandise bought at the team’s stadium. Anything bought at those stores goes more directly to the team. See here:

        http://www.bizofbaseball.com/i.....;Itemid=39

  • Relaunch

    Kaz Matsui rules!

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/.....id=3294343

    KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Houston Astros second baseman Kazuo Matsui will undergo surgery to repair an anal fissure on Monday in Houston.

  • MlbFan30

    You mentioned context from the data, but you don’t have any context yourself. Take a look at every team in MLB and what they charged for the top dollar seats for this time period. Even 2008 data alone will give some reference. Also cost of living for the particular area should be noted. $250 in NY buys a lot less than $250 in Houston.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Why does any of that information matter in a post explaining how Yankee ticket prices for their top seats have skyrocketed over the last 15 years? It doesn’t. There’s plenty of context here considering the point of the post.

  • RollingWave

    Jesus christ. whats the normal salary like in the US these days again? I’m thinking about that money realative to Taiwan wages and that’s a killer, a normal wage maker need like 1/3 – 1/5 of his monthly salary for 1 ticket. jesus

  • pete c.

    It’s not going to get any better with the new stadium boys. In the first place it holds fewer fans, plus they’re putting in skyboxes. Basically the market they’re catering to is corporate. Those are the folks who will eventually be able to afford the prices, and we’ll pay for their seats with increased prices in the products and or services they provide.

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  • Whitey14

    I haven’t heard anybody mention the players in all this. They continually want more and more money and teams like new york and Boston pay this money and then go in search of new revenue streams to make sure they can still make enough profit. Higher ticket prices are one of the easiet ways to increase revenues and both teams are certainly guilty of that. The sad thing is I bet even if there was a salary cap implemented some day, that we fans wouldn’t see a drop in ticket prices, the owners would just see a huge increase in profits. I see ticket prices as one of baseball’s biggest problems, even bigger than PEDs.

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  • Michael David

    Jason Giambi, Carl Pavanno, and Andy Pettite make a total of about
    50 million dollars this year. Out of the 3 Pettite is doing the best but
    it doesn’t equate to his 16 million dollar salary. Obviously paying
    Giambi over 23 million and Pavano 11 million is a farce.

    Let the people pay for this if they want but I will never go to a Yankee game.
    In fact when I watch the Yankees on YES I never watch the advertisements.
    Between innnings I quickly turn on another channel for about 3 minutes.
    When fans go to the games and watch the advertisements they are in
    full support of the salaries. At least I am doing the correct thing.

  • http://macsfactor-bronx53ny.blogspot.com/ G. Mac

    Corporations taking over stadiums and easing/squeezing out the average Joe-true-fan is not just happening in NY, and not just with the so-called rich clubs like Boston and New York. As I mentioned in my reply, I was a San Diego Padre season ticket type. I happened to do it the year the Pads met the 1998 Yanks in the World Series. I was (and am) just an average Joe… an enlisted man in the USN. That was the only reason I missed the World Series… duty called. But as your average Joe I was able to afford any seat in the yard for 80 games (opening day was sold separatly, and I avoid opening days anyway… never a real fan in the bunch… Tony Gwynn even agreed with me!).

    Guess what? Even as a season ticket holder… even able to afford any chair, even when the Padres quickly began to decline and spout their tired small-market excuses… i could NEVER get a seat behind the plate. Why? They were all corporate owned! Even though they were empty, night after night, as the Pads sank back into oblivion, I could never get a seat there. Even if I tried to move there late in the game (like I used to do ay YS in the 60s… the ushers allowed it), the Padres ushers would tell me to leave, even if the entire section was empty! So the corporate take-over has been well under way for years. That is why I am at the moment against revenue sharing. And I am actually against salary caps unless you have a salary floor too. I am against poorly run baseball franchises pocketing the money they get instead of even trying to put a decent product on the field. As Bill Veeck once said, I am not against the high price of superstars. But I am against the high price of mediocrity

    I will say this… I have always wondered what will happen if the Yankees fall into another protracted dry spell, like in the late sixties or mid eighties. Those $250 seats will feel mighty cold!

    By the way… do you know who was still broadcasting Padre games as late as last year? None other than Jerry Coleman… USMC pilot, six-time Yankee World Champ… and the nicest, most humble gent you’d ever meet!

  • http://macsfactor-bronx53ny.blogspot.com/ G. Mac

    LA Dodgers: $285-200 Baseline Box VIP
    SF Giants: $150-68 Field Club (depends on opponent)
    Chi Cubs: $100-55 Club Box (depends on opponent)
    Pirates: $35 Dugout Box
    Phillies: $60 Behind dugouts(!)
    I did some surfing for baseball tickets across the country. These are 2010 prices advertized by the teams’ official sites. I tried to list comparable seats… near the field but not the luxury suite types. These are regular seats. Some were predictable. Some I found surprising. The Dodgers actually smack their well-tanned fans harder than the Yanks do. I guess all that sumshine and smog keeps the LA-LA’s in a good mood. EVERYTHING in La-La land is outrageously high, so they are used to it. But they still leave in the 7th inning of a 2-2 game! The Cardinals do the same thing as the Cubs and Giants… higher prices for marquee games. The Cubs and Cards could both charge $500 for their rivalry games if they wanted to, and still sell out, because besides the rivalry, each stadium is driving distance from the other. The Pirates… no surprise there, but those $35 seats are great… dancing on the dugout close. The BIG surprise is the Phillies… a family of four can still get great seats for $240! The Phils are a good team in a new park… I wonder how long that price can last?