baseball is a rich fan's game now.

When Did Baseball Become a Rich Fans Sport?

Major League Baseball is insanely rich. I mean stupid rich. Think about it, you’d have to be rich to buy a team in the first place!  Yup. Baseball is a rich man’s sport. And now, it’s a rich FAN’s sport, too!

We’ve been baseball fans for quite some time. Our Toronto Blue Jays made an amazing playoff run last year but bowed out to KC in 6 games. Figures eh? We’ve been going to games since the 90’s (when games were more affordable) and when we moved abroad the team decides to make a playoff run for the first time in 20 years. I swear it’s a conspiracy. The players had a closed-door meeting and said “Hey, did you hear? Shelly and Al decided to leave Canada. Let’s win this year and totally pi$$ them off”. 

Anyway, we recently returned “home” and spent some time with family before our cross Canada road trip. In doing so we were able to partake in one of our beloved summer events – a baseball game.

Now, if you’ve never been to a ball game at Toronto’s SkyDome, you’re not missing much (it’s still called the Dome for those who think otherwise). It’s a concrete structure of boringness – as far as aesthetics go – but games don’t get rained out, so that’s a bonus, I suppose.

Toronto Blue Jays 500 level with
We used to get this view for $9.

Our tickets cost $20 CAD for nose-bleeds (500 level). We used to pay no more than $9. Ahh, the good ole days when the Jays stunk worse than a dog’s farts after eating turkey. Yeah, pretty bad for a while there. What’s worse is that we didn’t even purchase these $20 tickets through the Blue Jays – those would have cost even more. We got them online through a third party ticket vendor (fancy words for internet scalpers).

Beers were $10.75 for a tall-boy (that’s 431 ml). Up a buck since our last visit in early 2014, I think. High beer prices are typical of many baseball stadiums in the majors, or any event for that matter, be it baseball, NASCAR, music concerts, or Sesame Street on Ice.

And then there was the gift shop. Throngs of people were sauntering through the store looking for a purchase. They had money to burn I guess. I looked at the price of a tank-top for Shelly and it was $44.99. WHAT? It doesn’t even have sleeves!

good looking Blue Jays fans
Shelly will have to stick with her 3 year old top above.

But this is MLB. Put a logo on something and your cost goes up. That’s so MLB gets their piece of the pie. Good for them, I guess. Bad for us minimalist fans though. I suppose this is part of the reason why baseball is an insanely rich sport. They’ve got billions coming in from everywhere! T-shirts, bobbleheads, video games, TV rights, trading cards…it’s like that scene in Spaceballs when Yogurt (Mel Brooks) says movies make the real money from “Moy-chan-dizing”.

There’s also a credit card company that gives away t-shirts if you apply for their credit card. Back in my days of desiring more stuff I would often stop to fill out the application for said credit card to receive a “free” t-shirt. Not this time. No need for another credit card.  No need to have another shirt either, even though I’m getting low on my shirts and they’re starting to stink worse than the 1995 through 2014 Blue Jays teams.

I’m all for spending money on experiences, and if a ballgame is one of those, hey, go for it if you can afford to. But baseball has become a rich fan’s sport now. I guess this event was also a “been there, done that” type of event for us. I’d have much rather have gone to another ballpark to experience their stadium, their fans, and their overpriced stuff. I’m all for supporting my team, but at what cost? Players and owners are filthy rich, they don’t need a few bucks from me.

Anyway, I thought I’d provide a quick breakdown/explanation of costs for this “experience”, so here goes:

Parking $30. Okay, kind of misleading because we kind of got screwed. Back in 2014 we’d found $10-15 parking, which is great for event priced parking in Toronto. This time around there was just so much traffic and mass confusion we just parked below the restaurant we ate at. I suppose a silver lining is that we split parking with another couple, so it only cost us $15. Sadly, that’s still much cheaper than the public transit option!

Dinner: $70. 2 large beers, an ample size portion of mediocre fish and chips, and 3 small pork-sliders. We were full afterwards, but a $3 street-meat vendor-dog would have sufficed and would have led to the same repeating effects that my fish and chips offered up for about an hour after I ate it. Tasting a meal with every burp…priceless!

Tickets: $40. Again, we use to pay $9. Some parks still only charge $9, possibly less.

Beers: $32.25. Cheli had one and I pulled an Ernie Banks and played two. We could have enjoyed more but the wallet wouldn’t have enjoyed it. Sorry to the beer girl for not getting a tip from me. At the same time, your job is to get me a beer from a fridge, open it, and hand it to me. I’m not trying to be a d!ck, but you’re just doing your job, so an additional raping of my wallet isn’t really necessary, is it? Especially with the prices of said beer!!!

Prior to game-day I had thought about getting a Blue Jays cap. I’m in need of a new cap. But at $30 for the cheapest I can hold off showing my support for my team on my head. Maybe my team should be offering me a cap to support them?

Blue Jays 500 level with
Al is the only one not wearing Blue Jays gear in the entire SkyDome!

So, out a total of $157.25 for this “experience”, we pondered our overall enjoyment. The Jays were down 6-3 and mounted a comeback, pulling within one run heading into the final inning. To beat traffic (a common thing to do in Toronto), we headed down from the nose-bleeds to the field level seats. On the way down the A’s plated two add-on runs to take an 8-5 lead that they’d never relinquish, winning the game by the same score.

The game had its moments of excitement, but was overall pretty lackluster. Had the Jays won, or if we’d seen an epic Jose Bautista bat-flip or face-punching incident, I’m sure this event would have ranked a little higher on the excitement scale, but $160 worth? Nope. The week before this I watched a game on TV with my nephew. We ate a bag of chips,  he had a Dad’s Root Beer from the bottle and I a few Sleemans. This created a lasting memory for me for way less money than a live game.

I’m sure if we were still working and receiving a regular paycheck we wouldn’t balk at spending that kind of money. But sorry Blue Jays, I’ll have to stick to internet highlights, radio, and TV coverage. Technically, those aren’t free, but they’re a much better bang for my Buck Martinez!

Now go sell all your stuff and take me out to a ball game!


24 thoughts on “When Did Baseball Become a Rich Fans Sport?”

  1. Wow, that is a lot of money to watch a baseball game!! I think I’d rather sit at home or with friends to watch it on TV, buy cheap beer and make some delicious snacks and enjoy it that way! That’s how I used to watch the football games when I was living in Belgium 🙂

    1. Cynthia, totally! I watched the game on TV with my nephew and a few times with my aunt and uncle while staying with them and enjoyed that much more. Not that we didn’t enjoy spending time with family at the game, just the cost wasn’t worth it.

  2. I pretty much stopped going to pro sports contests a long time ago. I used to pay $14 for great seats for the Twins. Now the same seats would be $200. Never mind the $10 beers. I’m glad the Twins suck so bad. I don’t miss it.

    1. Tom, ironically when the Jays were terrible it was cheaper to go to a game and you can spread out. Heck, you could buy the cheap seats and make your way down to field level after a few innings. Not anymore. Interesting to see the Twinkies regress this year – they had a decent year under Molitor last season.

    1. Couldn’t agree more Jennifer. I used to work where the Toronto Maple Leafs / Toronto Raptors play. I was amazed at how quickly and easily people would drop $500. Good tips where I worked though 🙂

  3. I completely agree with this post! For us, major league baseball is not worth the expense. We have a minor league team near us that offers tickets for $8, free parking, and the team comes out and interacts with the kids. A much better experience. However, our friends really enjoy their season MLB tickets – so I guess if it brings you real enjoyment, go for it! For us, not so much.

    1. Yeah, I think we might try to get some minor league games when we’re in Vancouver – might be fun and a completely different experience. We had season tickets several years ago and used to bring sandwiches into the stadium :).

  4. Oh wow, that is a lot! I don’t watch sports but I think it would be fun to bring the kids – the few times I went to a football game, I loved the buzz of the stadium. Not at this price though, I’d rather watch them playing ball in the park for free 😉

    1. Marta, I enjoy the tailgating they do in US sports – especially American Football! It does help create a certain “buzz”.

  5. It’s really a lot of money to watch the game, but also all that surrounds it. But I guess as long as people are willing to pay for it, the prices will stay that high…

    1. Yep. And true for almost any event nowadays. I guess we as a society must be starved for entertainment to pay such prices. I think that’s where we’re starting to change. We’d rather EXPERIENCE something than simply be entertained.

  6. Thank you for calling out the craziness. You know where you can still do a game for cheap though? Atlanta or Oakland. $160 for a few hours is a bit on the crazy side. I’d rather see Beyonce.

    1. Can’t say we’d choose Beyonce over baseball, Rob, but I think Shelly might want to see the Beebs.

  7. Cricket is akin to baseball in India and I agree that besides the obnoxious rates for the game, the frills and the food end up getting the entire cost high. I dig winning free tickets and one advantage of being a marketing person is that you get a lot of sponsored tickets 😀 On my own, I doubt I would spend so much

    1. Ami, funny story…I worked with a guy (Vinay) from India several years ago. We asked him to come out to play softball (just like regular baseball only they pitch REALLY slow and underhand). Anyway, we give Vinay a glove and put him in the outfield. Some guy on the other team hits a high fly ball to Vinay. Vinay gets under it, throws away his glove, and catches it with his bare hands. It was so funny to watch the look on the other teams face!

  8. Commercialization has made sports more expensive for the fans, I am not much into Baseball but can vouch for Cricket which has transformed into a money making machine.

  9. I am a huge baseball fan, but agree, the price can be really high! We love going to minor league baseball games…you still get to enjoy a baseball game, but for a fraction of the price and usually there is more entertainment!

    1. Julie, we’ll be in Vancouver soon and I just looked up the Vancouver Canadians minor league tickets…$14 a ticket (CAD). That still seems pricey…maybe I’m just getting old and miserly.

  10. Going to the game – I really like it – but its turned into a God damned rip off. And these players make too much. Salary caps should be 9M/year – max. The god damned thievery is pathetic – this game is for father son enjoyment not some stinking shylock in the back room counting his sheckles.

    1. It sure is frustrating Mick. We went to a game in Seattle a few weeks ago thinking things might be a tad cheaper than in Toronto…nope. $7 hot dogs, $11 beers…Baseball has never been richer. Yet here I am, cheering on the Blue Jays in mid-October!

  11. Sadly, it doesn’t stop here. MLB wants your money to watch the game everywhere. No more broadcast games for those of us that can’t afford cable. No more games on radio for those of us who like to listen to the game. You need to spend hundreds per year to subscribe to all the services needed to watch or listen to the games.

    OH! And don’t forget the blackout if you’re anywhere near the stadium! I used to live within sight of Coors Field and couldn’t watch or listen to a Rockies game even if I HAD the MLB subscription. The game would play 58 minutes after the last out. That’s direct from their customer service. What a “great organization” MLB has become. They’re really all about the fans.

    1. Coors Field is such a great place for a ball game – loved the game I saw there – even got a sweet sunset (and a $21 rum and coke from that guy in RF). Lucky I haven’t had to endure blackouts for Toronto Blue Jays – the team is owned by a telecom company (Rogers), so watch it on TV or live they get $$ either way!

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