Cost of attending pro games steadily rising


Whether it’s the NFL, NBA, NHL or Major League Baseball, the average ticket continues to not be cheap.

Game prices rarely go down, says the Chicago-based Team Marketing Report (TMR), which uses a Fan Cost Index (FCI) formula to determine the approximate cost of tickets, two beers, four soft drinks, four hot dogs, parking, two programs, and two adult hats for a family of four attending a pro game. TMR says that it uses the cheapest available options for everything but tickets in the FCI formula.

The average FCI for the NFL is $479.45, up four percent from last season. This season saw the NHL cost rise 4.7 percent to almost $364. The NBA, at $333.58, is up almost three percent. And it’s $212 for MLB, up just over two percent from a season ago.

Locally, the Vikings’ FCI is almost $12 above the league average ($490.62). The Wild, one of 13 NHL clubs whose FCI is above the league average, has a FCI of $383 — about $19 above the NHL average.

And last season’s FCI for the Twins, who have teetered around 100 losses for the past several summers, was $215 — just three dollars above the major league average.

The Wolves’ in-arena prices are “a little bit below standard” of the local sporting venues, claimed Steve Sawyer, the general manager of the downtown Minneapolis arena. “Our prices are underneath” the other teams’ prices in town, he notes.

TMR confirms this — the Wolves’ $281.06 FCI is below the NBA average by $52.

“We are extremely affordable, in my opinion, for a family of four,” added Sawyer, who recently talked to the MSR about this season’s food offerings for fans who attend Timberwolves games, such as “Bacon on a Stick,” “Turkey To Go,” and a “deep-fried burger, battered in chips.” He pointed out that such items as cocktails and specialty items are more expensive: “But if you are looking at a good family meal, hot dogs, regular burgers, popcorn and sodas — all those things are very family-oriented.”

However, what family, besides those listed in the Forbes 500 richest families in America, can afford to eat at games? Delaware North Companies, which runs the concessions stands, makes “anywhere between $40,000 and $70,000” annually on food and beverages, according to Sawyer.

Sawyer noted that when the arena renovations are complete, as expected in a couple of years, “We will get more people in here. There will be more spaces for fans to be able to buy things in here. The lines won’t be so long. We will be able to sell enough [food items]. But our prices might be able to stay flat.”

Notice that he didn’t say that these prices will go down. “We’re pleased with it,” said Sawyer of the Timberwolves’ current pricing structure.

Why not? No NBA team has dropped its prices “by any significant percentage,” whether they’re at the top of the league or fledgling’s, as Minnesota has been for years, says TMR. NHL prices have steadily increased since 2008, while MLB has shown modest but steady growth in prices.

And it seems to be sacrilegious for an NFL team to lower its prices, which typically go up no more than three percent each season. What about last Sunday’s Super Bowl? According to NerdWallet, is it would take the average U.S. worker who makes around $17 an hour working 287 hours or 36 workdays to afford a Super Bowl ticket, whose face value is $800-$1,900.

Most likely it will be cheaper to watch pro games on television — unless you are a cable subscriber.


Next: Are fans really getting their full value at games?

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