Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The price of success

It has happened for years. "It" being raising ticket prices before each new season, especially after one in which the team in question wins a championship, or at least competes in one.

And why should the Rays handle their success any differently that every other team always has?

Yeah, the Tampa Bay Rays are raising ticket prices $1-$5 each, including $16 starting prices for what they're calling "prime" games (i.e. the Yankees or Red Sox, I'm assuming) and entry level fees of $13 for key giveaway days or post-game concerts.

Usually I can understand the concept of raising ticket prices. Championship titles create increased interest levels in a team, which generally mean more people want to pay for a ticket. It's supply vs. demand at its most basic. But I can't say I agree with the Rays decision in this case.

Sure, they made the post-season for the first time ever, making it all the way to the World Series. But not only was 2008 their first post-season appearance, it was their first everwinning season since their inception in 1998. Why can't they string together another winning season or two before asking the fans to pay a little more for admission?

Speaking of fans...

They hardly had any before August of last year, and broadcasts were embarrassing to watch. Other than a few sections around the infield, the seats were mostly empty. And it's not as if the stadium itself sells tickets (a la Wrigley Field or Camden Yards). Catwalks under the ceiling are in play, wreaking havoc on outfielders. It's a mess.

And even though the Rays are reportedly looking to increase their payroll to the $50 million range, they certainly aren't struggling to write paychecks. As a small market team who struggles to fill seats as it is, mixed with today's struggling economy and financial hardship for Americans everywhere, I think the Rays are out of line here.

Repeat as champs of the AL East, and we'll talk.

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