The Major League Baseball World Series maybe going on between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros, but the biggest talking point in baseball is not on the field. Rather it is in the stands (or not) and continues to surround the declining attendance during the regular season.
How bad was attendance for some teams? The New York Mets offered a subscription service allowing fans to pay a mere $40 a month for standing room only tickets. Fans got to see 78 baseball games at Citi Field for a mere $40 a month courtesy of the Amazin’ Mets Pass. It was a great idea and one this writer and Mets fan would have taken advantage of, if living in Queens.
As everything these days, baseball has blamed the fickle millennial generation on the decline in teams’ attendances around the league. How many things can the millennial generation truly be blamed for? It seems that every time a business loses money or sees its success decline, millennials are said to be at fault.
Anyone who was born in the millennial generation (as I was) knows this is not true. It is not the millennial generations fault that entertainment options are more abundant than ever in 2019. Nor is it the generation’s fault that many of the alternative entertainment options are cheaper than attending baseball games.
Hell, MLB’s subscription streaming service, MLB Network, and baseball teams’ individual TV deals make it far easier to follow a team without going to a stadium to watch in-person. After working an eight to 10-hour day, there is a lack of motivation for any fan to attend games especially when so many are provided via streaming services or on television.
According to MLB.com, the Amazin’ Mets Pass sold out and while marketing gurus will most likely say they won over the millennial fans; it is more likely the passes sold out because they were cheap. According to Seat Geek, the average price of an MLB ticket in 2019 was $53. Imagine paying that multiple times during the year or taking your son, daughter, wife, or side piece to a game and paying that or more on tickets. Then you have to add the drinks, food, and gimmicks sold at the ballpark on to that figure. You could hit $500 in no time.
Now imagine paying $40 for a subscription each month to watch baseball. You can even upgrade to get a seat or most likely find an empty seat to sit in. There are plenty around MLB. You could even buy hotdogs, beers, and a baseball cap. That doesn’t sound so bad then, right?
Baseball can blame millennials all it wants but the fact is tickets are too expensive for what you get to see. Fifteen of MLB’s 30 teams finished the season with records at .500 or below. Who wants to spend $53 on a ticket to see two basement dwellers play a September game that has no meaning?
For decades, MLB had the summer to itself and could get fans to come out to watch meaningless ballgames. If MLB is to get fans back, not only must it make tickets cheaper but it needs to add excitement back to the game. Homeruns, bat flips and the like won’t do it. What fans want are meaningful games throughout the season and not just in October.