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.


#25 Baseball does not lend itself to gambling because ... the results are a lot less predictable

Can you back this up with facts/explanation? I don't quite follow why gambling would decrease if results are less predictable. Casinos would be out of business if this were true.


I like to go to minor league games. The quality of play is similar, but tickets can be had for


You've been too busy to go to one MLB game in five years? In five whole years you haven't had a single five-hour block of free time? I'm a third-year resident and I've managed to go to two Nationals games this year. You're not too busy to go to games, you choose not to spend your time going to games. There's a big difference.

Ray G

I'd nitpick the whole recession myth, but he's obviously speaking tongue in cheek. Right?
I mean, he's not saying "perhaps" but he's saying something matter of fact that is completely based off an untenable opinion.

But this part of the opinion section isn't it?


These posts make a number of good points:

1) People are choosing cheaper alternatives for entertainment (baseball being the cheapest major sport(

2) It may not be "because of" (overstating the case)

In addition I would add:

1) Certain aspects of show-business and the entertainment industry thrive during the recession (think great depression)

2) Also, the author noted that he, since retirement , has managed to find the time to catch a game. Well, knowing what we know about the demographics of this country, might more retirement mean more baseball fans?


The writer was pretty selective. Most people don't go alone. Presuming a family of four, parking, cokes, hotdogs and most teams with far higher prices than the Dodger's cheap seats mentioned, $125-$150 for this family of four is not uncommon. Cheaper to be sure than than the NBA or NFL, but not cheap. Harris in Muncie


Good point. I attended many Braves games when I was living in Atlanta and temping/underemployed. It was cheap, fun entertainment.


Err....correction to my previous comment, I meant "inferior good" not "Giffen good".


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.


#16-- the average length of an MLB game is under three hours, not "4 hours." The NFL also has three-hour games, and the "action" amounts to less than 15 minutes of the 60-minute game clock. The rest of it is shuttling personnel on and off the field, huddling, standing at the line of scrimmage as the play clock runs down, etc. Somehow non-retired folks find time to watch the NFL, so your theory doesn't hold water.

S. Heaton

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.


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


"Three plus hours of entertainment"? I thought you were talking about baseball. Where's the entertainment?


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.


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


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.

Nick Kasoff

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


#17-Great points. Totally agree.


The rising price of movie tickets should also be factored in. In the SF Bay Area, first run movies can set one back anywhere from $10.50-$13.50/adult. That makes cheap seats at a live baseball game seem cheap by comparison.


@ #12 - Your thoughts on the potential growth in baseball fans is spot on. Only a retired person has time to watch a 4 hour game in which all the action could be boiled down into 15 minutes of TV.