Baseball ticket fees: Who is charging how much?

David Brown
Big League Stew

With prices frequently and sometimes drastically slashed on the secondary market, a Major League Baseball team's website is probably the last place any fan should look for tickets to a game. In addition to a higher base price, another reason is the fees, either hidden or obvious, that consumers are made to pay. A $20 ticket might seem like a good deal, until it becomes a $30 ticket thanks to "convenience fees," and "order processing" and other fees that don't get names.

Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times did original research and reports on how much each major league team is charging, how the fees are broken down and how they compare to fees of a season ago. The Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees are the worst, not surprisingly, given the venues.

Even for the cheapest seat Jaffe said he could find, the Red Sox charged a league-high $11.50 per ticket in extra fees. This is almost as much as the cheapest ticket they offer, which $12 for upper bleachers on certain dates. Of course, even that $12 ticket really costs $23.50 because of the fees. The Cubs have the highest extra fees — $29.04 — if you buy four seats at a time. The Yankees charge you $26.50 extra for four seats, the Red Sox charge $25 extra.

And what about the biggest changes from 2012 to 2013?

The Yankees ($6.40), followed by the Kansas City Royals ($6) showed the highest increase in fees in the past season. The Pirates, Mets, Rangers and Padres all went up at least $3, and the Rays increased fees by a buck. The Astros and Cubs went up about 50 cents, and 10 teams didn't raise fee prices at all.

The White Sox ($13.08) and Angels ($12) led 11 teams that cut their ticket fees. Jaffe has a theory on the White Sox:

Flipping it around, [nearly] a third of the teams have dropped their add-on prices, no team more drastically than the White Sox. I wrote an entire column on them last year, noting that they had counter-productive pricing policies. In terms of ticket prices, add-on costs, and seemingly all else, the Sox would make sure they were lower than the Cubs, but by very little. As a result, there wasn’t much reason for a Cub fan to switch allegiances if it meant just a few pennies on the dollar.

I guess the Sox are making a more aggressive effort to grow their fan base by having lower prices. Lord knows they have the empty upper-deck seats to put them in. The damn shame of it all is that the Sox changed their prices just in time for their offense to completely fall apart.

The Angels reduced their fees after missing the postseason. On the flip side, the Tigers did likewise after winning the pennant. That’s nice of them.

Going to the box office can lessen some, if not all, of these fees. But going to the secondary market — which is going to fee you up, too — probably is the best bet for any fan who "needs two."

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