Archived: Pricing Fans Out of the Game

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Generations of Americans have enjoyed whiling away an afternoon or evening with friends and family at the ballpark, joining in the old sports tune, “Take me out to the ballgame.” But if you’re an average Joe or Jill today, you’ve been taken out of the ballgame by corporate owners who now cater to upscale customers, pricing the experience beyond the reach of regular folks.

Look at the new Yankee Stadium. It will only have half as many bleacher seats as the venerable old stadium next door. The old ballpark, now being bulldozed, was known as “The House That Ruth Built,” because The Babe drew thousands of working class fans to each game, filling those bleachers.

But the new edifice is reaching for a much higher-end demographic than Joe Sixpack, boasting more than three times as many luxury skyboxes as its more egalitarian predecessor. The draw is no longer to the game itself, but to the scene – a chance for Wall Streeters, corporate chieftains, politicians, and other suits to see and be seen, to schmooze with each other in the splendid isolation of the pricey boxes.

Team owners have also come up with a new financial gimmick that shuts out average fans. Even to get a chance to buy season tickets for the games in such new football stadiums as the one the New York Jets will soon use, a gamer must first purchase a PSL – personal seat license. These go for $5,000 or more. This doesn’t get you an actual seat at the games, just the “license” to buy tickets – which sell for roughly $120 per seat, per game. So a family of four wanting season tickets to root for their team must pay $20,000 for PSLs, then shell out $500 for four tickets to each game. And that doesn’t count gas, parking, hot dogs, a cold beer, and souvenirs.

Forget “Take me out to the ballgame” – regular folks are just plain getting taken.

For more information on Jim Hightower’s work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, visit www.jimhightower.com

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