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Spring training attendance is down 14%

Mar 13, 2013, 5:40 PM EDT

Goodyear Ballpark Getty Images

When I was in Arizona the weekend games were packed and there were plenty of seats available during the week. Seemed normal, but apparently not so much: according to STATS, Inc., spring training attendance is off 14% so far.

There are several reasons. Games started a week earlier this year. There were a lot of rain delays and rainouts, even in Arizona. The World Baseball Classic games had to have some negative impact as well.

The linked story notes high ticket prices too. This is something I’ve wondered about. Each year I go I make a point to go to at least one game as a ticketed customer as opposed to a credentialed scribe. This year it seemed like the tickets cost a heck of a lot more than usual. Next year: lawn seats and sunscreen.


  1. contraryguy - Mar 13, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    Link didn’t work. Similar story here:–mlb.html

    More teams have upgraded their spring digs and charged increased prices afterwards. Example, it used to be easy to get a good seat at the Phillies place in Clearwater, forget it now. Fold into the price and travel issues (like am I going to AZ to see the Reds? ah, NO) the dubious attraction of a split-squad batting lineup w/no stars and maybe a few prospects in it.

    btw, the Atlanta spring training place is such a slam dunk for attendance it should be illegal; next to Disney World. No wonder tix are expensive there.

  2. historiophiliac - Mar 13, 2013 at 5:59 PM


    • unclemosesgreen - Mar 13, 2013 at 6:13 PM

      Look who knows so much. Spring Training is only MOSTLY dead. Which is also somewhat alive.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 13, 2013 at 6:14 PM

        LIAR! Liar, liar, liar, liar!

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 13, 2013 at 6:18 PM

        Get back WITCH!

      • cur68 - Mar 13, 2013 at 6:33 PM

        The only person who gets to start chanting “Humperdink” ’round here is Jordenay Valedespin.

    • skerney - Mar 13, 2013 at 6:14 PM

      Baseball is dying, guys.

  3. skerney - Mar 13, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    I for one welcome our new football overlords.

    Wait, what am I saying? Football sucks.

  4. seanb20124 - Mar 13, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    It’s the economy stupid

    • Old Gator - Mar 13, 2013 at 10:58 PM

      Partially – but I also think that whereas the teams used to be spread around Florida and Arizona, inhabiting a variety of different local markets, they’re now crammed into two basic market zones, central Florida and Phoenix. They’re now competing for attention from just those two markets. They may just be stretching their customer bases thinner.

  5. hojo20 - Mar 13, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    For the high prices, I’d want to see more of the regular players and the starters go more than 2 innings.

    • 18thstreet - Mar 15, 2013 at 12:01 PM

      I’ve been to a few Spring Training games in my life. I don’t see the experience as being worth the price. But, hey, that’s just me. It seems like plenty of people like it a lot.

      Even good seats are worth less to me than what I’d pay to see double A.

  6. dondada10 - Mar 13, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    Attendance is down? So, can we get instant replay now?

  7. APBA Guy - Mar 13, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    I’m going into full geezer mode here so everybody stand back: When my father retired to Florida in the ’80’s he did it in stages, first going down for a few months, but always renting his place during Spring training. Reason: the rent for that month alone paid for his property taxes, mortgage, etc, on the Florida house for the entire year. Occasionally there would be a March where the house would only get rented for 28 days or something and I’d sneak down and watch some Spring games with my brother. We’d go see Baltimore in Miami, or stay local and see the Yankees in Tampa or the Pirates in Bradenton. Sometimes we could walk right in and sit on the grass for no charge, depending on the team, if we were late, or if the ticket takers were not paying attention.

    Those stadia were little better than municipal fields with larger grandstands. It’s hard to believe how much different-and nicer-the Spring stadia are now than 30 years ago. At the same time, housing-even in Florida-is more than it was then. That housing cost plus the lack of increase in middle class purchasing power vs. cost of living, especially costs of luxury items like baseball tickets, has shifted the sports market from a middle class oriented audience to an expense account, business oriented market.

    Except that Spring games don’t really capture the business market-there’s little cachet, the games mean nothing, and major corporations don’t have a good value prop for block ticket buying at Spring games. Spring games still speak largely to the middle class, and mainly the local residents (Disney figures suggest 70% of their theme park business is regional). Since Florida localities have been feeling the squeeze on their middle class like everywhere else, and I assume in Arizona as well, continuing to raise Spring ticket prices will produce an inflection point leading to a reduction in attendance.

    That will change when ticket prices stabilize and incomes catch up, or if ticket prices come down.

    • philliesblow - Mar 13, 2013 at 10:01 PM

      1 thumbs up for the post and 20 more for the correct use of stadia as the plural of stadium. Thanks for bringing back memories of my 2 years of Latin in high school.

      • Old Gator - Mar 13, 2013 at 10:59 PM

        And now you can write “Romans go home” correctly one hundred times – and don’t forget to use the ablative, or I’ll cut your balls off.

    • stlouis1baseball - Mar 14, 2013 at 8:59 AM

      Great post…you Geezer!

      This right here speaks volumes…

      “Housing cost plus the lack of increase in middle class purchasing power vs. cost of living, especially costs of luxury items like baseball tickets, has shifted the sports market from a middle class oriented audience to an expense account, business oriented market.”

  8. paperlions - Mar 13, 2013 at 8:08 PM

    Who the fuck pays > $50 to watch practice? I love me some baseball…but if I’m paying to watch, it should be competitive baseball, not freaking practice. You know how much owners pay player during spring training? Zero dollars. But yeah, it’ll cost $54 to watch practice….GTFO.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 13, 2013 at 9:16 PM

      If only you were a real baseball fan…

      • paperlions - Mar 14, 2013 at 7:45 AM

        Hehe, with that “definition”, I’m glad I’m not.

        I could see going to one spring training game and buying the absolute cheapest ticket you can find to have the experience of doing it….but that’s it….unless you are retired, got more money than you need, and don’t particularly like your descendants, then I could see hanging out at the park every day for $50 plus the cost of snacks.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 14, 2013 at 7:49 AM


        (I wouldn’t do it either. I can see a minor league game locally and check out some prospects that way…maybe not for my team, but it’s easier to go to Texas during the season and see them that way.)

  9. steelers88 - Mar 13, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    Guys calm down it’s just spring training. Once the regular season kicks off it will be business as usual. Even the NFL doesn’t sell out exhibition games. Who in the right mind would pay tons of $ to see basically a scrimmage not only baseball but any sport.

  10. tomtravis76 - Mar 13, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    When the O’s played in Lauderdale you could get a ticket to stand along the fence for 1-2 dollars and beers were like 2-3 dollars., and this was late 90’s early 00’s. The stadium was a dump but you could have conversations with players, coaches and vets just hanging around watching a game in the afternoons.

    Dodgertown in Vero was great, free parking and tickets were 5 bucks or less, you could walk around and take in the history at that place.

    Teams wonder why fans would rather watch from home or pick up those last minute tickets on stubhub when prices drop below a dollar. Baseball is sitting in the outfield talking about what a player should be doing to improve his stats, comparing todays game to years gone by, prospects coming up, tossing peanut shells on the ground, and f the yankees, f the red sox.

  11. jason1214 - Mar 13, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    I’ll be crying in my $9 beer and $75 seats this summer at Wrigley. Its ST who cares.

  12. maltdawg - Mar 13, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    Brighthouse Field home of the Phillies charges $33.00 for box seats and $17.00 to stand in the outfield. For an exhibition game……give me a freaking break.

  13. anthonyverna - Mar 13, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    I went to Ft. Lauderdale to see friends recently. We drove up to Jupiter to see Twins-Marlins just to go to a spring training game, as I had never gone before. It was $30/ticket. For a game that doesn’t count, when players will be pulled in the 3rd, 4th and 5th innings, it was certainly not worth that amount of money. It was fun, but I wouldn’t do it again at that price.

    • 4d3fect - Mar 13, 2013 at 11:24 PM

      You forgot to say thank you to J. Loria.

  14. jcmeyer10 - Mar 13, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    Well the MLB has 100% attendance from Craig so, at least they don’t have to worry about that number.

  15. motherscratcher23 - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:49 AM

    Effin’ Obama

  16. Minoring In Baseball - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:48 AM

    Yeah, the economy is horrible right now, and the ticket prices to the spring games aren’t really that ‘cheap’. You can buy a pair of front row tickets to a minor legue team for under $20. That is still the best value in baseball.

    • paperlions - Mar 14, 2013 at 7:47 AM

      Exactly. I’d rather pay to see short-season ball (which is the only MiLB team near me) than ST, and those tickets are still pretty cheap….I think they were about $12-15 to be right on top of the action….plus beer is only $4 there. Of course, it is still a sub-optimal experience as the MiLB team is a Detroit Tiger affiliate. 😛

      • historiophiliac - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:21 AM

        Stuff a t-shirt in it, paper bag! >:(

      • paperlions - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:25 AM

        Quit doing that, it’ll give you frown lines.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:30 AM

        Well, then stop being a meanie. If you were really concerned for my loveliness you wouldn’t do that. >:(

      • paperlions - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:33 AM

        On the plus side, Friday nights is always “fireworks night”, that’s when we usually go… large part because one of the women in our group LOVES fire works….she starts to get all excited in the 8th inning and counting down the “outs until fireworks”.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:47 AM

        Hilarious. That’s like my niece. She’ll be practically dozing by the 7th inning, but she’s adamant to stay for the fireworks. Best moment at a game with her: She looks up from the program and says “What’s NWA?” I started giggling and her mom said “Don’t even think about it.”

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