The price isn’t right anymore for fans

(Michele Tranquilli)
Posted: May 05, 2010

Going to a game is one of the pure joys of being a sports fan. You can follow your team on television or the radio, get the scoop on them in the newspaper or online and even argue about them on one of the call-in shows. But there is nothing quite like sitting in the stands and soaking in the atmosphere of "being there" as the action unfolds.

Unfortunately, going to games has become somewhat harder for fans locally. While the Phillies have sold out Citizens Bank Park on 54 consecutives dates and the Eagles annually sell out within minutes and have a season-ticket waiting list that spans years, there is some agreement among fans who participated in the survey conducted by the Daily News and the Sport Industry Research Center at Temple University that attending games has become a luxury that has become increasingly unaffordable. Some told us they have been forced to go to fewer games.

When asked if they "consider it affordable to attend pro sporting events," 14.8 percent said they would "strongly disagree" that it is and 49.6 percent said they would "disagree." Only 17.2 percent said they would "agree" that it is affordable and less than 1 percent said they would "strongly agree." The remaining 17.5 percent said they would "neither agree nor disagree."

Contacted for followup interviews, respondents said some of this has to do with the troubled economy. But others blamed the continually escalating cost of attending a game, which includes not just the price of tickets but parking, concessions and other expenses. Generally, they said they have become more conscious of not what they spend but where they spend it.

That corresponded with the collected data in terms of "which sports team offers the best value" - 84 percent said the Phillies, 8 percent said the Eagles, 6 percent said the Flyers and 2 percent said the Sixers.

With 81 home games, the Phillies also present the most opportunities for fans to attend a game.

However, according to Team Marketing Report, the Phillies have the fifth-highest average ticket price in baseball at $32.99. The major league average is $26.74.

The Phillies were the only team in the city to raise ticket prices in the last year. Most individual-game tickets cost $2 to $4 more this season. Not counting premium seating, season-ticket prices varied from no increase to $2 per ticket.

The Flyers have the fifth-highest average in the NHL at $60.25, TMR found. The average is $51.27.

Ticket prices for the Eagles and Sixers fall below the average in their respective leagues, according to TMR. Last season, the Eagles' average was $69, which ranks 17th; the NFL average is $74.99. The Sixers' average is $43, which ranks 19th; the NBA average is $49.47.

"In general, sporting events are not affordable," said Adam Mazzola, of Pitman, N.J. "You can find good deals on Flyers tickets every now and then, but the Eagles are a complete joke both in ticket prices and in parking, let alone concessions. The Phillies are a decent value, but you are still dropping some serious coin."

Gilbert Freedman, of Wynnewood, echoed that. "The advantage of the Phillies games is that you can do the games and not spend your whole weekly salary," Freedman said. "Whereas the Eagles, Flyers and Sixers are a fortune! Also, the Sixers are horrible! Why would anyone pay that kind of money for that inept performance?"

Rob Kilby, of Bordentown, N.J., said that his "entertainment dollar has been greatly reduced by unemployment, but that the Phillies will be getting all I have to spend."

"To attend a Flyers or Sixers game and sit in a good seat has become far too expensive for my wallet," Kilby said. "I think attending an Eagles game is still fairly reasonable since there are so few games, but I enjoy them just as much on my hi-def flat screen."

Rosemary L'Erario, of Eastampton, N.J., said she is cutting back some this year. "Rather than seeing five Phillies games, we'll see three this year," she said. "Tickets for the Flyers and Eagles are completely overpriced and way out of reach in terms of expense. We'll probably never see a game at the Linc."

Asked in the survey "how many pro sporting events do you attend in a given year," 3 percent said none, 31 percent said 1-4 games, 31 percent said 5-10 games, 20 percent said 11-20 games and 15 percent said 20 or more games.

Ed Gallagher, of Philadelphia, said he can no longer afford a partial season-ticket plan at Citizens Bank Park. An elementary-school teacher for 6 years, he said his "wallet would take too much of a hit with the uncertainty of layoffs on the horizon everywhere." Of his inability to continue to support the team as he has, Gallagher added, "It breaks my heart, but it's reality."

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