Jim Sankey: Extra Innings: Pirates may be on to something with ticket prices

May 21—It should come as no surprise that among the country's top three pro sports, baseball is cheapest to attend.

Adam Thompson of compared the cost of attending a professional event for a family of four, including the four cheapest tickets, parking, four hot dogs, two 20-ounce beers and two 20-ounce sodas.

While the family cost for an NFL game averages $646.88 and for an NBA game totals an average $304.64, MLB cost in 2024 averages $190.03.

Fans of the Dodgers ($322.25) and of the Red Sox ($321.25) pay more than triple the average cost, while White Sox fans have the least expensive cost ($118) for the family.

The Pirates were 22nd last season, but the 2024 average cost of $167.50 places the Bucs 15th of the 30 MLB teams.

The Pirates have always touted their "Fan Values" tickets, posting on their website, "The Pirates believe in offering values to get every Bucs fan to PNC Park this season."

These include and discounts for seniors, military personnel, college students and fans with an area grocery store card and those with an area bank card.

Up until last year, seats for the Great Taste ticket for every game were on the lower level in sections 101, and 119-132 and came with a $12 loaded value, which could be used for to buy a drink or concessions or souvenirs. Last year, seats were only in the outfield, near a bar which featured the beer brand. This year the ticket comes as Standing Room Only and a voucher that is "good for one beer."

The ticket price begins at $19, but goes up to $43, depending on the game.

For the past several years, Family Pack tickets for every game were available at seating locations throughout PNC Park for 2-for-$44 seats in the upper level and 2-for-$54 in the lower section. The cost included $12 loaded value per ticket for concessions or souvenirs, reducing the seat cost of the ticket to $10 upstairs and $15 downstairs.

This season, the Family Pack is available only in sections 201-205, all the way down the right-field line. Ticket price begins at $32 (two ticket minimum) and includes all you can eat hot dogs, nachos, peanuts and soda.

I asked a Pirates spokesman about these to "Fan Values" and the possibility of any improvement, he answered, "To my knowledge we aren't going to be changing the offers."

The best deal seems to be for mid-week day games that start at $23 and include $12 loaded value.

There is just no easy way to find the best deal on tickets in 2024.

This is Pittsburgh's example of, "If you have to ask, you can't afford it."

There are 13 different pricing areas in PNC Park, and most sections in each pricing area vary a few bucks depending on how close or far away from the field you sit. Lowest price tickets range anywhere from $25 to $52, depending on the opponent and the day of the week.

However, the Bucs evidently have created the "Paul Skenes pricing" offer. The day before his call-up, a discounted ticket for May 11 was $17; the morning Skenes was called up, the cost was $26, and when the team announced he would start on May 11, the same seat had become $60. Last year, a $58 seat in the lower level we had sat in had become $140 on May 11. There wasn't a seat upstairs in any row of any section that wasn't $60 or more. And those "fan Values" offers provided $5 off.

So obviously, there must be new pricing for tickets: It all depends on who is playing.

For example, if Rowdy Tellez is in the lineup, wouldn't you expect the ticket cost to be lower than if Conner Joe were at first base? and then there is the infamous "Sunday lineup," a day when at least two or three of the top players are rested — another discount. If Quinn Priester (thankfully sent back to AAA) were the starting pitcher, we should expect a substantial price reduction. And if the team develops another batting slump, another discount on tickets.

Gosh, when we were subjected to those 100-loss teams, there should have been a loaded value that gave fans more than the cost of the tickets.

You know, the Pirates might just have found something that gives true "fan values."

JIM SANKEY is the Pittsburgh Pirates columnist for Allied News. His work appears weekly during the baseball season.

JIM SANKEY is the Pittsburgh Pirates columnist for Allied News. His work appears weekly during the baseball season.