Minor League Baseball is a diverse, nationwide industry that appeals to different people for different reasons, but the essence of the experience has been and continues to be affordable family-friendly entertainment.
This point was hammered home with Wednesday's release of the 2011 Fan Cost Survey, which pegged the average cost of taking a family of four to a Minor League Baseball game to be $59.77. This number includes two adult tickets, two child tickets, four hot dogs, two beers, two sodas, a program or scorecard and parking. This amount varies somewhat by level of play, with Triple-A teams averaging $68, Double-A $60.09, Class A $59.66 and Class A Short-Season $53.03.
The $59.77 total represents a very slight increase from 2010's Fan Cost Survey, when the average cost was $57.70. Minor League Baseball president Pat O'Conner was happy with the figure regardless, saying that the industry has "done a good job maintaining value and affordability even with the costs of goods and labor up."
"[Minor League Baseball] is facing the same economy that the world faces and that our fans are facing," he continued. "So we're forced to be more effective and more creative with our budgets. It's something that we're very committed to, and, more importantly, there are a lot of people who work in this industry who are very good at it."
He added, "We always hate to have [price] increases, but given the state of the economy, not to have any at all would have been extraordinary."
And O'Conner stresses that the Fan Cost Survey is only a barometer.
"[The Fan Survey] includes a great lineup of things, but we know that, for our repeat customers, the cost is often going to be less than [the amount indicated]," he said.
This is not just because regular fans might do without some of the items included in the survey, but because Minor League Baseball regularly offers increased bang for the buck through All-You-Can-Eat seating areas, "Thirsty Thursday" drink specials, day-of-the-week ticket deals and a plethora of similarly budget-conscious innovations. It all comes back to the industry's core operating principle, one hammered home by O'Conner on a regular basis.
"Something I've always said is that every team should offer a $5 ticket," he said. "I realize that in some places that may not be feasible or reflective of the market, but we cannot lose sight of our roots. We're all about affordable family entertainment, and we have to keep focusing on that fact."