The revelations last week over beer prices in major league baseball stadiums gives us a chance to use it to illustrate what has become a central topic in this year’s remarkable mayoral campaign–the city’s shrinking middle class and the ever broadening economic gap between the rich and poor.
This all began when the Team Marketing Report released this year’s version of a report looking at stadium costs in major league baseball. (More after the jump)
Somehow, the Yankees, we are told, do not sell the most expensive beer in the major leagues. That (dis)honor falls to the Boston Red Sox, according to a price per ounce chart produced by TMR.
Beer at Fenway Park comes in at $.60 per ounce, while the Yankees apparently sell the fifth most expensive beer, at $.50 per ounce, cheaper than the Cardinals, Blue Jays and Nationals. (The Mets are listed in sixth place, just behind the Yankees at $.48 per ounce.) (A typical six-pack of Bud in your local bodega runs about $6–for the whole six-pack.)
While the beer numbers were interesting, our attention was captured more by what TMS calls the FCI or Fan Cost Index. This number is an attempt to compare stadium prices for a typical outing by a family of four.
That’s four average price tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four hot dogs, one parking spot, two game programs and two baseball caps.
Here, the Yankees are second only to the Red Sox in cost. Such an afternoon for the family would set you back $324 at Yankee Stadium, according to TMR. That’s an incredible $116 higher than the major league average, and that’s just for a typical mid-season game. (The playoffs, of course, are substantially more expensive.)
A regular seat at the Stadium costs $51, a 12-ounce beer averages out at $6, a program is $5, a cap is $25, and parking, yes, parking is $35. Moreover, a single so-called premium seat averages out to an incredible $305.
Census figures show that the median annual household income in the city is just $51,000. Median income is down. The poverty rate is now 22 percent. Can families who make that much really afford to blow more than $300 on a baseball game? (Check out this map of the city’s economic disparities.)
But wait, the Mets should have similar prices, right? Same city, same cost of living…Wrong, it’s actually $100 cheaper to go to a Mets game, according to the FCI. The average seat is half the cost of a Yankee seat, and a premium is less than one third of a premium seat at Yankee Stadium.
Ok, well, what about other major cities … Los Angeles for example, should have similar costs as the Yankees, right? It’s another storied team in a big city. Wrong, again. The FCI for the Dodgers is $204, way below that of the Yankees and lower than the league average. A typical seat at Dodgers Stadium costs $22, compared to $51 at Yankee Stadium.
The FCI for the surging Pittsburgh Pirates logs in at $164 per family, the Cleveland Indians, at $157. And the Arizona Diamondbacks, $122–or $200 per game less than the Yankees!
So, it’s fairly clear that the Yankee prices are out of balance not only with the league, but with New Yorkers’ economics. Are the Yankees bearing that in mind? We wonder.
The debate we mentioned took place after Deadspin posted an item about the beer prices. The Washington Nationals disputed the numbers, by the way. And, Beergraphs.com also suggested that some of the numbers may be off.
One last note: If you want to look up the concession prices on the Yankee website, you can’t. For each concession stand, the site states, “menu not available.”