Columnists, Sports

Indirect Kick: Sports ticket prices are too high

Liverpool fans recently staged a walkout at Anfield. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA
Liverpool fans recently staged a walkout at Anfield. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA

If you were watching the German Cup last week, not only would you have seen four road victories, but another spectacle just off the field. In the game between Borussia Dortmund and VfB Stuttgart, tennis balls began to rain down onto the pitch just about 25 minutes into the match.

The littering of the pitch was done in protest of high ticket prices at Stuttgart, some costing upwards of $79. Dortmund supporters also boycotted the first 20 minutes of the match.

The reason for throwing tennis balls is because Germans have the saying, “great tennis,” which is used to describe something very good. The protest was a way to tell Stuttgart their ticket prices were too high.

Dortmund’s display was just the latest fan protest over high ticket prices at soccer games. Liverpool fans also staged a walkout in the 77th minute of a match against Sunderland back on Feb. 6. Ticket prices for the new main stand are set to be 77 pounds, or $111, which is far too much for a ticket to a game, especially with Liverpool underperforming.

This same issue is becoming prevalent not just in soccer, but in all sports. Ticket prices for sports are rising too fast. It is becoming impossible for the general public to afford a ticket to the nearest sporting event.

The Boston Bruins have raised ticket prices ever since the most recent NHL lockout. In 2012, the price of a Bruins ticket in the balcony rows 11-15 was $29. If you were to purchase that same ticket today, it would be upwards of $60. Unbelievable.

For a family of four to attend a Bruins game, they would be paying more than double what they would have three years ago. And it’s ridiculous.

Even in the NFL, ticket prices are astronomical. Some of the lowest ticket prices in the league belong to the Cleveland Browns. However, the Browns will likely raise their ticket prices for next year. Cleveland raised its ticket prices last season despite not having made the playoffs since 2003. While the price increase isn’t a large amount, it does deter some buyers.

In a study done by Statista, researchers found that average ticket prices in three of the big four sports are currently higher than $50. The NFL has the highest ticket price of any major sport in America at $85.83, which is outrageous.

What are some things that cost less than a sports ticket you might ask? For starters, T-Mobile’s 4G Family Plan costs $50, around $3 less than the average NBA ticket. The gym near my house has a family membership plan for $55, which is less than paying to go to an NHL game. My own family of three pays about $75 for groceries per week, less than one seat at an average NFL game.

The most alarming thing about all three of these comparisons is that they’re all true. Sports should be something that families can enjoy as a day out, not something designed to nickel and dime people out of money. While I understand that it’s not cheap to run a sports team, it is something that should be family-oriented.

And this doesn’t just pertain to the United States, but concerns sports as a global phenomenon. Obviously, games like the Super Bowl, the World Cup Final and others are premier games and will have a heftier price tag. But for games between teams that are miles away from winning any championships (i.e. Liverpool and Stuttgart), ticket prices should not be any higher than absolutely necessary.

So, how can sports teams decrease ticket prices?

For starters, many teams have adopted a price shift depending on opponents or competitions. For example, if the team is playing a weaker foe, tickets for the game will be cheap. However, if the team is playing a perennial playoff team, tickets will tend to be a little more expensive.

This system works nicely for those who utilize it. The prices for tickets gravitate around an average and increase or decrease depending on popularity or the opponent. This way, games are still affordable.

This dynamic pricing also concerns weather, promotions and even days of the week. If the game is outdoors in December in Buffalo, tickets may be less expensive in order to attract interest.

Teams also run promotions at some games, such as $1 hot dog nights or free t-shirts, which could drive up the prices. Days of the week play a huge role as well. Games on a Monday will be more sparsely attended than games on a Saturday.

Fluctuating the cost of tickets to games may seem like a risk, but it does provide a way to make tickets cheap enough for families to be able to afford. After all, sports are supposed to be family-oriented.

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Daniel Shulman is a sophomore at Boston University majoring in Journalism through the College of Communication. A native of Stoughton, Dan is a sports fanatic who loves everything Boston sports related. He is currently a Sports Hawk at the Boston Globe in the High School sports department. He is also a statistician for both Men’s and Women’s Soccer and Men’s Ice Hockey. Aside from writing, Dan has an interest in music, movies and cooking.

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