Everything you ever wanted to know about baseball ticket prices

Everything you ever wanted to know about baseball ticket prices
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The first pitches have been thrown, and Rick Ankiel is on pace to hit 162 home runs this season. Time to buy some baseball tickets. To help you out, we’ve analyzed ticket prices for every regular season Major League Baseball game in 2012, using data from SeatGeek, which tracks prices on secondary markets like StubHub. The SeatGeek data provides a more realistic view of what tickets are really worth, not just what teams originally sell them for.

Average ticket prices last season ranged from $8.55 (for an early season game between the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians) to $222.58 (a New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox game commemorating Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary). The median price for all games was $39.96. Ticket prices are highest for the first games of the season, but they peaked again around June 11.

Above, you can see average ticket prices over the course of the 2012 regular season. Here’s the distribution of average ticket prices for every team in the league last year:

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The priciest tickets: Opening Day and Yankees at Red Sox

Across the league, the average ticket price for the first series of the season topped $100, making them the year’s most expensive tickets. Seven of the ten most expensive games in 2012 were on Opening Day. The other three were all games the Yankees played at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.

Excluding opening day, 6 of the 10 most expensive games were contests between the Yankees and the Red Sox (five in Boston, one in New York). Two others were the Chicago White Sox at the Chicago Cubs; one was the Red Sox at Cubs; and the remaining game was the Yankees at the Mets.

Late-season baseball is cheaper than summer and spring

After the opening series, prices fell to around $40. As spring turned into summer and the weather became warmer and dryer, average ticket prices rose, peaking in June around $60. For the rest of the season, tickets on secondary markets fell in price until closing the season around $30 in October.

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Games after work are the cheapest

Weekends were more expensive than weekdays, and day games, which typically fall on weekends, were more expensive than night games. However, tickets to weekend day games sold for roughly the same as weekend night games last year, while workweek day games were more expensive than after-work evening contests.

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The best prices are in the middle of the week

Throughout the league, the cheapest tickets are sold for Tuesday and Wednesday games, at an average price of $37. Tickets get progressively more expensive Wednesday through Saturday, before falling again from Sunday to Tuesday.

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Expensive to be a Sox fan in Boston

Despite finishing dead last in their division with the 6th worst record in baseball, the Red Sox had the highest median price for home games, at $69.27. The cheapest tickets last season were for Kansas City Royals home games, at a median price of $25.78.

Better to be a Toronto Blue Jays fan in the US

For some teams, it’s cheaper for fans to see their team on the road than at home. That’s the case for the Toronto Blue Jays, which had home game ticket prices 70% above the team’s away games in the United States. Conversely, the Los Angeles Angels can be seen at home for 63% less, on average, than their away games.

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The Yankee premium

The New York Yankees were the only team to drive prices up for every opponent it played on the road. For games the team played outside of the Bronx, tickets sold for an average of $36 dollars above that home team’s typical price on secondary markets. The largest premium paid to see the Yankees was $67 per ticket when they were hosted across town by the New York Mets. (The Chicago White Sox have a similar effect on their crosstown rivals, the Cubs, adding $67 to the ticket price.) Yankee games in Boston against their division rival, the Red Sox, saw a ticket premium of $55.

The Red Sox also pushed prices higher on the road. Games the Red Sox played away from Fenway increased ticket prices by an average of $17. The Sox only pulled prices down at one stadium, Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, when the team was there for a three-game series in April.

The Mariner discount

The Seattle Mariners consistently suppressed ticket prices on the road. They only played one team where the average ticket price was higher than the home team’s average: the Colorado Rockies, a marginal premium of $0.70. The Mariners typically brought down ticket prices by $10, though their games against the Red Sox were sold $36 cheaper than other Red Sox home games, the steepest such discount in 2012.

Here’s a look at each team’s effect on ticket prices while on the road:


How to time your ticket buying

The surest way to spend too much on a baseball ticket is to buy your tickets far in advance, and that goes for other kinds of events, as well. According to Will Flaherty, director of communications at SeatGeek, ticket prices “fall pretty dramatically, as you get closer to the event, particularly in that acute 48-hour window right before kickoff, first pitch, whatever that may be.” Be sure to time the market well.

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Notes about our analysis: SeetGeek provided us with the average ticket price for each game on every Major League Baseball team’s schedule, using data the company collects from online ticket exchanges. We derived our analysis from that data as if each team sells the same number of tickets (they don’t), has the same number of seats (they don’t), and as if all tickets are sold in the same volume and under the same rules on secondary exchanges (they’re not).