Sports and The Economy: How Have Fans and Teams Reacted?

Roger HarfordCorrespondent ISeptember 8, 2009

We all know the economy has been hurting for a while. But how has it affected the sports world?

The cost of attending professional and major college sporting events has been on the rise for a long time.  Between ticket prices, travel costs, parking, and food at the game it is not uncommon for one person to spend over $100 to go to a game.

The way things have been going, that is a lot to ask for someone to spend to be at a game when they can watch it on TV for free.

The outbreak of new multi-million dollar stadiums hasn’t helped the prices either. In the New York City area alone new stadiums have opened or will open shortly for the Mets and Yankees, the Nets, the Devils, and one for the Giants and Jets to share.

The Dallas Cowboys have also built the most expensive stadium in United States history at around $1.5 billion.

But how has all of this affected the attendance?

In Major League Baseball, attendance for this year is down compared to last year. The per game average is down 2,084 this year compared to last year. Only nine out of 30 teams have seen an increase in attendance per game from last year.

Overall, the total attendance this year is down by over 4.2 million compared to this time last year. This number can be slightly deceiving though. The Mets and Yankees each opened brand new stadiums this year that hold less fans making it impossible for them to equal their attendance from last year.

But for the rest of the league the economy is surely a huge factor in the decrease in attendance.

For some fans though, the economy has not had an effect on their attendance of their favorite team’s games.

“The economy didn’t really have any effect on my decision,” says Doug Gausepohl of New Jersey. “Living at home I don’t have any major expenses.”

Gausepohl, 19, bought a 15 game partial season ticket plan for the New York Mets along with two of his friends.

“The new stadium definitely had an impact. I wanted to be a part of the first season at Citi Field,” said Gausepohl when asked what influenced him to make the $309 purchase.

Personally, I have been to more baseball and hockey games in the last year than I ever had before. I also bought a 15 game partial season ticket plan for the Mets. The new stadium did have a minimal effect on my decision, but I probably would have bought the tickets even in the old stadium.

That is how the fans have reacted, but what about teams?

According to the Associated Press, total payrolls this year are down from last year, but only 16 out of the 30 teams decreased their payroll, a number that is somewhat surprising.

The Giants and Jets have reacted by charging personal seat licenses at their new stadium set to open for the 2010 NFL season. This means that anyone who wants to purchase season tickets has to pay a significant fee for the seat license on top of the price of the tickets.

This is something a lot of NFL teams have been doing recently to help finance their new stadiums.

Overall, the effect on professional sports teams is the same as for the fans. The ones that have money haven’t felt the impact quite as hard as the ones that are struggling to turn a profit.