Coming off their second winning season in decades, the Royals have passed the cost of watching an above .500 team onto you, the fans.
According to Team Marketing Report, the Royals jacked ticket prices by an average of almost 25 percent. That increase is by far the largest in the major leagues.
The top five:
Kansas City Royals - 24.7%
Los Angeles Dodgers - 15.3%
Detroit Tigers - 7.1%
Pittsburgh Pirates - 6.5%
Arizona Diamondbacks - 6.4%
League Average - 2.0%
That's... Eye opening.
Just so there isn't any confusion, here is how they figure the average ticket price:
Average ticket price represents a weighted average of season ticket prices for general seating categories, determined by factoring the tickets in each price range as a percentage of the total number of seats in each venue. Premium seating (tickets that come with at least one added amenity or is classified by team as premium) are not included in the survey to calculate average ticket price. Luxury suites are also excluded from the survey. Season ticket pricing is used for any team that offers some or all tickets at lower prices for customers who buy season seats. Teams have a say in what seats are considered general or premium.
Last year, the Royals introduced flex pricing, which apparently was quite the success. Now they are raising prices across the board. I have gone on the record about this at length: I do not begrudge David Glass his profits. Baseball is a business and businesses exist to make money. Capitalism, baby. When I learned about the report about the ticket prices, I sent the following tweet:
David Glass doesn't like to lose. Money. Doesn't like to lose money.— Craig Brown (@royalsauthority) March 31, 2014
You bet your ass this is partially in response to an increasing payroll, a miserable television deal and a profit and loss statement that fell in the red for the first time in a long while. If the Forbes numbers are to be believed, Glass isn't going to take the same loss two years running. Again, I don't fault Glass for frowning when he's losing money. I bristle at the 25 percent increase. That's a lot for the average fan to swallow. No matter if this team is contending. It will be awfully interesting to plug the 2014 numbers into the charts I created for the Forbes post. There's going to be a nice little spike in income.
When I look at the Fan Cost Index and see that it now costs a family of four an average of $191 to attend a Royals game, that doesn't please me. The Glass apologists (and as I learned from Twitter there are plenty still out there) say the Royals still have one of the least expensive tickets in the majors. Nice story, but with this steep increase that's no longer the case. Team Marketing Report says the Royals have the 19th highest average ticket price. Their FCI ranks 21st. They remain below average, which is nice. However the Royals play in the 31st largest market (according to Nielsen.) Among markets with baseball teams, Kansas City ranks ahead of only Cincinnati and Milwaukee. For their market size they have a lofty position on the Marketing Report list. Yes, their prices are below average, but they're ahead of other teams in similar, or larger, markets.
This looks to be part of the "all-in" strategy employed by the Royals. They won 86 games last year, their best showing since 1989. Attendance has been incredibly steady over the last five seasons and figures to see a modest increase in 2014. There is a buzz about this team. Fans are excited. They are getting national notice. And Glass isn't going to miss this opportunity.
I wish I could blame him, but I can't.
This salvo was enjoyable from Team Marketing Report:
Of course, market size, and fan demographics, often determine prices. Certainly, many fans don't get what they pay for in regard to winning teams.
Tell us something we don't know.
I wonder what the end game is in all of this. Beer is obscenely expensive. So is the rest of the stale food they serve. Fans can be rude or inconsiderate which doesn't help the experience. FCI says It's going to cost over $190 dollars to go to a game. While there's nothing that beats an evening at the yard, I'm perfectly content sitting at home watching the game on an HD monitor. I avoid the obnoxious fans, the parking hassles and the overpriced beer. I can channel surf to other games while I relax on my couch. It doesn't really compare to the ballpark experience, but it's not a bad substitute.
On the other hand, we've been spoiled as Royals fans. For the most part, we can get tickets on the aftermarket at a reduced price. Then, once in the stadium, we can move around to a better location. They also have let you bring your own food into the games, something you can't do across the parking lot at Arrowhead. With wins, there will be more fans. With more fans, there will be more restrictions. That's a deal I can make if we're talking winning baseball.