The Cost of Attendance

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This week, students in Professional Sports Administration were asked to answer two questions regarding the cost to attend a professional sporting event.

  1. Given the high costs of attending sporting events, do you think they have become too expensive for the average fan?
  2. At what point do professional sport’s costs get to the tipping point?  Do you think that the professional sports industry’s bubble is going to burst?

Here are two student’s reactions.

By: Brittany Rajala

Growing up, I can only think of a handful of times that we ever attended sports games as a family. Normally it was something that was a special treat and a big deal if we would get to go see the semi-professional hockey or baseball teams that were close to us, some closer than others. This was because of the high cost- for tickets, to travel, for merchandise, for food, etc. Never did we go to a professional sports game growing up, not until we were much older and that has only been in the last couple of years. I believe that with increasing costs of tickets, especially for families, these types of experiences will quickly become the norm. Because of this, I agree that minor league teams are becoming the more family friendly route. A majority of the time, they are going to offer similar, if not the same, experiences as a professional league team could provide for much more affordable pricing. In addition, in some manner, minor leagues can be seen as competing with professional teams for attendees so they have to offer some sort of pull and incentive to attend.

Regarding the “sports industry bubble”, I’m a little more hesitant to say that it’s going to burst, especially anytime soon. Said hypothetical bubble would have to grow very, very large before it would pop. There are a variety of factors- ranging from cost for tickets, team, location, sport, the team’s record- all of which can influence what a fan might be willing to pay to attend a game. In my opinion, astronomical changes in pricing would have to occur for sports teams and leaders for a large scale issue to occur within the industry. Take for example the Detroit Red Wings, who have a consecutive sellout streak of over 200 games, and teams’ attendance improving even with increased ticket costs. I do not see people’s passion for sport decreasing any time soon and while ticket, concession, and merchandise prices continue to rise, I believe that people will continue to attend sport games because it is something that is so highly revered for many. However, I still believe that sports executives should keep focus on this area to keep their fans happy and returning to games over other entertainment options.

By: Eric Harp

In 2016, we have heard, lived through and complained about the same story too many times; prices keep going up while wages for the average working person in the US do not. Wages for professional athletes are still ridiculously high. 2008’s financial meltdown did not deter sports fans from attending games. The Fan Cost Index (FCI) measures of how much it will cost a family of four to attend a professional sports event including tickets, parking, programs, food, drinks and souvenir.

The average FCI for the NFL in 2015 was $480.89.  The San Francisco 49ers had the highest FCI at $640 and the Jacksonville Jaguars had the lowest FCI at $347.60. The Detroit Lions had a FCI of $437.63.

The average FCI for the NBA’s 2015-16 season is $339.02. The highest FCI is for the New York Knicks at $676.42. The lowest FCI is for the Charlotte Hornets at $212.40. The Detroit Pistons have a FCI of $215.68.

Accordingly, the latest FCI figures for the NHL were in 2014. The average FCI for the NHL was $363.58. The highest FCI was for the Toronto Maple Leafs at $572.58. The lowest FCI was for Florida Panthers at $255.55. The Detroit Red Wings had a FCI of $307.54.

The average FCI for MLB in 2016 is at $219.53. The highest FCI is for the Boston Red Sox at $360.66 and the lowest is for the Arizona Diamondbacks at $132.10. The Detroit Tigers have a FCI of $214.52.

Because of such high prices, alternatives to the major leagues are the minor professional leagues. NBA D-League tickets are as low as $7. Many AHL teams offer family promotions for around $100. According to a 2014 Forbes article, the average FCI for attending Minor League baseball games is $63.55.

The larger cities and media markets house the major sports leagues while smaller areas host the more affordable minor leagues. The benefits are saving money where available while still seeing professional level talent. The drawbacks could be travel time and costs if minor leagues are not close by. The division between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is getting increasingly wider. Those with the means will continue to attend the more expensive games. Others will watch on TV where available or watch online if viewable so teams will continue to earn money from media deals.  I don’t think that the “bubble” will burst anytime in the near future. I think that owners will continue to adjust seating prices and promotions to fill seats. Fans are fans! Somehow, someway, someone will come up with the money to pay if one wants it bad enough.

Brown, M. (n.d.). Have Concerts And Sporting Events Become Too Expensive For The Average Fan? Retrieved April 14, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2014/07/23/have-concerts-and-sporting-events-become-too-expensive-for-the-average-fan/3/#76f01c162ba5

Team Marketing Report. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2016, from https://www.teammarketing.com/btSubscriptions/fancostcontroller/index

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