Entertainment

Take Me Out to the (Really Expensive) Ballgame!

A day spent at one of our nation's great ballparks might just cost too much — but there's a way around that

Almost $78 for two people. As of last spring, that was the average cost of watching a Major League Baseball game in one of its ballparks, according to a study by GOBankingRates.

What does that $78 — technically, $77.92 — get you and your plus-one? Two tickets for about $41. Two hot dogs for $8 and change. Two beers for just under $12. And a parking spot for just under $16.

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What used to be a fairly economical way to spend an afternoon or an evening has become decidedly more expensive over the years. And if you’re a hardcore fan of your home team, the costs involved can add up quickly.

With 162 games in the regular season, each team generally plays 81 home games. If you attended just under 25 percent of those home contests (or 20 games), the average cost for you and a companion would total over $1,550 for the season — presuming you like a little food and drink over the three-hour span from first pitch to last.

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Once so synonymous with American sports that it was called the national pastime, baseball has seen its popularity travel downward for the past few decades.

The sport still has a strong base of passionate fans — and it might have been helped a bit by a 2016 World Series that had everything a baseball fan could ask for — but there’s a lot more competition than there once was. Many younger people today are more interested in the NFL, the NBA, extreme sports, and even eSports. (Yes, that’s competitive video game playing.)

So you’d think ballparks would make it as inviting as possible for people to take in a live game, especially in an era in which fans can enjoy games at home on large-screen 4K high-definition televisions. Instead, it remains a fairly pricey affair — with some exceptions.

The previously mentioned GOBankingRates report ranked the “most and least expensive stadiums for MLB fans to watch a baseball game” at the start of the 2016 season, which is the most recent study available. As with the pricing noted above, what follows indicates the average per-game costs of two season tickets, two hot dogs, two beers, and parking.

Most expensive. Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox, opened in 1912 and now runs $157 for two people — $96 of which is the cost of two tickets. It costs an absurd $35 to park a car.

Coming in second is Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs, at just over $116. (And remember, this is before the Cubs won the 2016 World Series.)

Unsurprisingly, Yankee Stadium (the New York Yankees) round out the top three at just under $110.

Least expensive. Two people can enjoy an Angels game with concessions for less than $48 at the Los Angeles Angel Stadium. The Angels have the lowest per-game price on season tickets, at just $9.80 each.

Coming in second is the nearby Los Angeles Dodgers (Dodger Stadium) at a little over $55, with the Arizona Diamondbacks (Chase Field) rounding out the top three at just under $58.

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Some ballparks have been looking to make the strain easier on the wallets of fans. Last year, the Cleveland Indians won the American League pennant and were just one game away from winning their first World Series since 1948. You might think that would lead to higher prices for home games — but that wasn’t the case.

Instead, the Indians chose to drop the price of a hot dog to $3; cut prices on nachos, pretzels, pizza, popcorn, pretzels, and bratwursts by 25 percent; drop soda refills to $2; and add several other discounts, such as $1 hot dogs, on certain promotional nights.

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“We’ve asked our fans what they want most in their ballpark experience at Progressive Field, and more affordable concessions prices routinely top the list,” Indians president Mark Shapiro said in a news release, as reported by MLB.com. “This is a way for us to let fans know we’re listening to them and that we value them.”

“This is a way for us to let fans know we’re listening to them.”

San Francisco Bay area resident Mark Aselstine told LifeZette he’s found creative ways of enjoying baseball games with his kids, without breaking the bank.

“Oftentimes we can go to a [San Francisco] Giants game midweek for a ton cheaper than we can see the [Oakland] A’s,” Aselstine said. “That’s largely due to the active secondary marketplace for tickets, where bleacher seats or upper-level tickets often stay in the single figures.”

It also helps to bring your own food when possible,” he said. “The Giants tend to be pretty generous about what we’re allowed to bring into the stadium food-wise. Combined with public transportation, [that] can make for a surprisingly cheap night out.”

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