Thanks for helping, now go away

July 14, 2008

Ah, remember the “family farm,” which politicians regularly praise the virtues of when they’re taking billions from us to give to corporate agriculture? Add another to the list of myths and illusions we’re paying to maintain: the one about the “family of four” that takes a day off to enjoy a leisurely day at the ballpark. From 1991 to 2006, the NFL’s average ticket price jumped 147 percent. It was up 110 percent in the NBA and a whopping 151 percent for major league baseball. In the same time span, the average median household income in Indiana grew 68 percent.

So a lot of families in Indiana are giving up their season tickets for the Colts and the Pacers and even skipping the occasional game. Said a Zionsville couple who gave up seats they’ve had for the Pacers for 15 years, “We’re spending $425 to just get in the door, and nobody has had a snack or dinner and nobody has parked a car.”

And this isn’t some accidental evolution:

Instead of the “family of four,” long the Americana image of game-going fans, experts say teams and leagues are now targeting the single corporate fan, usually male but sometimes female, late 20s or early 30s, with disposable income and more generous spending limits. Also, corporations increasingly are buying up large blocks of tickets with which to entertain clients, often leading to empty seats in prime locations (and undoubtedly irking the families who can barely afford the “cheap seats” up near the rafters).

“It’s about catering to a different market,” said Raymond Sauer, Clemson University economics professor and creator of the online blog The Sports Economist. “They’re pricing that (family) segment of the market out more and replacing it with big money people.”

What’s galling is that the government makes ordinary people pay for this nonsense through taxes that help build lavish new stadiums, and then have the nerve to brag about how much good the politicians are doing for economic development and what a good deal such things are for the quality of life here.

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3 Responses to “Thanks for helping, now go away”

  1. Bob G. Says:

    …And let’s not forget to mention how those HUGE (new) stadiums have a propensity to leak rain water which manages to foul up all the electricals…and HOW MUCH did that cost again?
    (not that I’m casting aspersions…heh, heh, heh)

    B.G.

  2. Steve T. Says:

    “It’s about catering to a different market… They’re pricing that (family) segment of the market out more and replacing it with big money people.”

    The usual response to this sort of scandal is the superficial capitalist one that in a free market it’s un-American to complain about a company jockeying to maximize profit. Period.

    But a little more thought shows that these big recreation & entertainment operations always need support and approval from the hometown populace including local government in order to win the contracts and set up shop. Once the company has a lock on the entertainment franchise, this disdain for the common folks’ modest pocketbooks pops up with such regularity that it has become virtually a part of the business model.

    We have to start objecting to the kind of unethical business model that re-defines its regional service as a luxury option and local people as a non-essential market segment after the people of the region have granted the rights, approvals and subsidies needed to serve them.

  3. Harl Delos Says:

    Congress has granted these team owners *immunity* from the anti-trust laws, as the Good Book says. Specifically, I refer to 1 Peter 2:18 commends servants to submit to their masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.

    The players may be the only ones bought and sold, but we are ALL slaves. Why do you think newspapers and television stations give so much publicity and promotion to pro sports? It’s because they are good Christians!

    Mind your ways, sir, lest you end up in Hell!


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