Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs
- Beer: $6.50
- Hot dog: $4.50
- Baseball hat: $20
Not many professional sports teams can point to losing as a successful marketing gimmick.
The Chicago Cubs likely wouldn't agree that failing is to their benefit, and their fans certainly wouldn't call their perennial losing charming. What can you say, however, is that despite the Cubs' title drought (103 years and counting), the team is generally one of the league leaders in attendance year in and year out -- with prices to match.
Cubs fans are remarkable for being some of the most simultaneously resigned yet optimistic fans in the game, but you can give only so much credit to the more than 3 million paying customers who showed up last year when they're saying "wait till next year" in one of the greatest sports venues still standing.
The friendly confines of Wrigley Field was built in 1914 and is seemingly more remedial and alluring than ever. Wrigley Field is the only ballpark in the five most expensive to have a drop in the Fan Cost Index for 2011 -- down 1.2%, to $305.60.
The $46.90 you'll spend for an average ticket doesn't turn to pretend money once you enter a living legend like Wrigley. It just probably won't hit you as hard as the iconic brick wall lining the field when you realize how many generations have taken in a game from your very vantage point. And watched the Cubs lose. Not a steal by any means, but maybe best considered as a gilded, living history lesson.
Play-ball tip: Buy a soda and hot dog, but skip the hat.
U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox
- Beer: $6.50
- Hot dog $3.50
- Baseball hat: $13
The Chicago White Sox may not be quite the darlings of the baseball world that their north side brethren are, but that's what you get for being the one team in town to win a championship inside of a century.
Playing second fiddle in the Windy City doesn't change the fact that they still play in one of the largest sports markets in the country, and the prices reflect that. U.S. Cellular Field came into the season with an average ticket price of $40.67.
"We traditionally make small, incremental increases in our ticket prices to keep up with market value," says Marty Maloney of White Sox public relations. "We again kept the ticket increase small at what we believe to be a manageable difference from last year."
There is a perception held by some that the White Sox are the blue-collar club in Chicago, which wouldn't seem to jibe with the reality that they're ranked as the fourth-most-expensive park experience in baseball. To their credit, the Sox, like many clubs, make a concerted effort to make their product financially manageable for all fans and not just those with top hats and pocket watches. Deep discounts are offered on select games for kids ($1 tickets), students, families, large groups, military personnel and seniors. Maloney also noted that the prices of parking and most concessions are about the same as last year.rs.
"Year over year, fans are very pleased with our offerings," Maloney says. "We do not hear much negative feedback on prices."
Play-ball tip: Go on one of nine "Value Mondays," when tickets are half-price.
Citi Field, home of the New York Mets
- Beer: $5.75
- Hot dog: $5
- Baseball hat: $16
Teams tend to ride the opening of new ballparks to quick contention and an infusion of talent. But sometimes, that isn't what happens. Step right up and meet the Mets!
If you would like to visit the shiny new venue named for the international bank, you'll have to break one, as it turns out. Citi Field is the fifth-most-expensive park in the Bigs for 2011, according to Team Marketing Report. The Fan Cost Index for this season (four adults and the works) will average $241.74. That sum might even be palatable when distracted by an exciting, winning product on the field, but Mets fans can finish this sentence for you.
The average ticket price actually dropped 1.3% from 2010, to $31.81 for an adult.
That doesn't seem all that bad, even when considering overall tickets and concessions were up 6.5% year over year.
Play-ball tip: Try for weekday games, and avoid big draws like the Phillies to find the best deals.
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