Because, Not In Spite Of

A recent article notes that attendance in Major League Baseball parks is actually above last year, despite, so the story says, the economic downturn (recession?).

But despite is incorrect — it should be “because” of the economic downturn. The story notes that cheap seats at the Dodgers Stadium go for $8 to $13. Not bad for three plus hours of entertainment; but in good times who can afford that time?

In bad times, when the opportunity cost of time is reduced, the total price of an afternoon at the ballpark is lower for many people than it is when jobs are more plentiful. I see this in my own planning. Though I like baseball, I haven’t been to an M.L.B. game in over five years — I’ve been working too hard; but I do plan to attend more once I partially retire and the opportunity cost of my time drops.

Baseball watching is a time-intensive activity; and when time becomes “cheaper” for many people, as it does in a recession, it’s not surprising that the demand for watching M.L.B. games rises. The price of the complementary good to the ticket price — the price of one’s time — has fallen.

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  1. mgroves says:

    The Reds offer “all you can eat” seats for $30. A better deal, I could not imagine.

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  2. Chappy says:

    Well, certainly an economic argument, but I bet your post is way off. How do you explain the clear downturn in attendance during previous recessions?

    My guess is that something else is at play like (the Nationals) new ballpark(s), better weather, or more desireable scheduling/match-ups.

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  3. Nick Kasoff says:

    I find baseball intolerably boring, and would not attend a game if I were unemployed and the tickets were free. Great analysis, though.

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  4. Cory says:

    It gets a quite a bit pricier when you factor in $15 for parking and $10 per person for a hot dog and a drink.

    To #1: the Dodgers offer the same thing, although they charge $35-40.

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  5. Matt says:

    “Three plus hours of entertainment”? I thought you were talking about baseball. Where’s the entertainment?

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  6. S. Heaton says:

    I Think the right answer is that it “Could be” because of the recession, not necessarily “because of”. The logic is fine (though possibly empirically incorrect as pointed out by “Chappy” @2) but the relative contribution of this factor for the observed uptick is questionable.

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  7. doug says:

    Add to that $20 to park, $6.00 beers, $3.00 ‘rubber’ hot dog. I’ll stay at home.

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  8. synapticmisfires says:

    I think there is another economic argument to be had here as well. When you consider the price of baseball tickets relative to football or basketball tickets, they are clearly the Giffen Good of those 3 major sports. Say someone wants 1 game of in person professional sports viewing a year, the cheapest way to do that is a baseball game.

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