No "Cheap Seats" In New Yankee Stadium

Travis NelsonSenior Analyst IJuly 15, 2008
But what prevents McCarver and other national commentators who work Mets and Yankees games from adding that the cost of tickets to these new parks will price many longtime and even lifetime patrons right out of their seats and even out of the parks?

What prevents them from simply stating, "By the way, the cost of many of the tickets will be staggering"?

The story's out. And it's a sensational story. So why the silence?

Oh, I dunno...maybe because they don't really care? McCarver or Jon Miller or anyone else who does commentary on a baseball game is supposed to be talking about the game. It's only on the FOX post-season broadcasts that anybody pays any attention to who's in the stands, and then it's only to notice celebrities in the stands, to plug the new season of Lost or The Hills or CSI: Ulaanbaatar.

The announcers aren't paying for their tickets. They're not reporters, and probably aren't even aware of what tickets will cost in Yankee Stadium next year. If Phil Mushnick wants to complain about that stuff, he's free to do so. Or, alternatively, he's free to try to get a job as a color commentator on a national network, so he can air his complaints there. But I think he'll find that there's not much tolerance for that kind of thing. people tune in to those broadcasts to watch and listen to the game, and don't much want to hear how much more money it's going to cost to attend such a game next year.

Think about it: The people watching the game on TV are, by definition, not at the game. Most of them won't attend a game all year. They either live too far away, or can't afford the time or the money or both. And those who do attend games probably already know that their prices are going up. They know the new park is going to be smaller, which means that the prices will be that much higher, besides the normal increase you would expect with a new park. They have to choose whether they're going to

A) pony up the money for the kind of seats they usually buy,

2) spend the kind of money they usually spend for lesser quality seats, or

iii) spring for MLB.tv or satellite television.

There really aren't any other options, and that's true for season ticket holders, too. Well, except that if someone who has two box seats this year decides to go for the satellite TV deal instead, he can buy tickets to a game or two through an online broker and then drive to the game in the brand new Lexus he bought with his savings. What a pity.

Yes, baseball teams are businesses. But they're not run like businesses. Owners routinely lose money on purpose. Owners benefit from being parts of a legally sanctioned monopoly that should, by almost any standard, be illegal. Owners buy teams not because they want to make money, but because they like baseball (usually) and because they want to see their names in the newspapers. Baseball owners derive immense benefits -- many of them falling under the heading of psychic income -- from their teams, far different from those enjoyed by the owners of, say, trucking companies and widget factories.

So, don't tell me it's all about the free market, because it's not and shouldn't be. I don't expect the owner of my favorite team to lose money every year, but I do expect him to have a heart. And that includes somehow ensuring that fans who can't afford $70 for one ticket can still occasionally watch a game without needing binoculars.