FORT WAYNE – Of course you know the song Take Me Out to the Ball Game. It would be a reliable assumption that during a seventh-inning stretch rendition, you’ve sung it, swayed to it, and maybe even sloshed some of your beer on the visibly irritated person a row beneath you. But just in case you’re unfamiliar, it goes like this:
Take me out to the ball game. Take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack
That should be enough to let us know that the gist of the song penned in 1908 was that somebody wanted to go to a baseball game. But that was over a hundred years ago. It’s not as easy these days – or as cheap – to attend an event.
Notice the first stanza, when the initial demand is made to go to the game: Take me out to the ball game.
There are 30 Major League Baseball teams, many of which are within a few hours’ drive of Fort Wayne. Arguably the city’s favorite is the Chicago Cubs, so we’ll use them as our source, even though cases can and will be made for the other nearby teams the Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds.
The purpose is to juxtapose the financial commitment necessary for a local family of four to attend a Cubs game with that of Fort Wayne’s Midwest League team, the TinCaps, which is the Class A affiliate of the San Diego Padres.
According to the MLB team marketing report, the average cost of a 2014 Cubs ticket is $44.16, which ranks third highest behind the Boston Red Sox ($52.32) and New York Yankees ($51.55). These figures are based on general seating categories, determined by factoring the tickets in each price range as a percentage of the total number of seats. Discounted group seats are also figured.
Seat prices vary by location at all parks. According to the Cubs’ website, a Wrigley Field seat in the first 11 rows between first and third base is listed at $114. A similar location at Parkview Field for a TinCaps game is $9.
For us, the focus has to be on the value and what it is to the family, TinCaps general manager Mike Nutter says. We don’t take it a step further and say, But a big-league game or a Colts game or a Bulls game would cost you this.’ Certainly we don’t do it to the other people in town in the other sports to make ourselves look better. But there is no question that the foremost thing is we do family entertainment, one, and the value of it, second.
Now if one pays close attention to the previous lyrics, the noteworthy phrase is take me, indicating one of two things: that the person wishing to attend the game has given instructions to a cab driver, or that he or she will be sitting with the friend who provided the transportation. Which means what? Two tickets.
The $44.16 admission into Wrigley Field has now doubled to $88.32.
The plot thickens as the wallet thins.
The aforementioned team marketing report includes a column labeled FCI. That stands for Fan Cost Index, which takes into consideration ancillary costs of attending a game for a family of four.
This includes four adult average-price tickets ($176.64), two small (16 ounces) draft beers at $7.50 each ($15), four small (15 ounces) soft drinks at $4 each ($16), four regular hot dogs at $5.50 each ($22), parking for one car ($25), two programs at $4.50 each ($9) and two least-expensive, adult-size adjustable caps at $20 each ($40).
The Fan Cost Index for a family outing to a Chicago Cubs game: $303.64.
If Fort Wayne is your point of origin, then toss in a 3 1/2 hour, 330-mile trip. For the convenience of using round numbers, let’s say the cost of a gallon of gas is $3.50, and your family roadster gets 35 miles to the gallon, then there’s $33 more for fuel, bringing the Cubs’ cost to $336.64.
Using the Cubs’ $114 marquee price for lower-level tickets between first base and third base, a group of four would increase the total amount to $616.
Let’s compare similar seating arrangements and purchases at a TinCaps game.
Four tickets at $9 each ($36), two draft beers at $5 each ($10), four medium soft drinks at $3 each ($12), four regular hot dogs at $3 each ($12), parking ($4), and two adult-size adjustable caps at $16 each ($32). Programs are free.
There’s also the convenience aspect, since Parkview Field is at most a 20-minute drive, which could make the fuel cost $2 or below.
Which brings the TinCaps’ total to $108, less than a third of the cost of going to a game at Wrigley Field. But then you don’t get to watch the shining example of a professional baseball team such as the Cubs, who have had four consecutive losing seasons and, over the last three years, have lost 288 games and finished a collective 90 games below .500.
And you thought it was the Cubs that were paying the $13 million annual salary of pitcher Edwin Jackson.
By comparison, the Class A players, including TinCaps, make between $1,500 and $2,000 a month.
While the Cubs may be No. 1 in our hearts and last in the standings, Wrigley isn’t the most expensive venue among Major League Baseball teams.
On a baseball website that addresses the issue of increased ballpark spending, one fan wrote, I’m a huge Yankee fan (yeah I know), however after they built the new Yankee stadium I’ve been one time in 2010 and after paying for gas, tolls, parking, 2 beers, 2 hot dogs, 1 bag of peanuts I dropped well over $100.00 and that didn’t include the ticket price of $255.00.
Now I remain at home (and) have my buddies over, chips and dips, steaks and beer for everyone and only spend a fraction for the price of going to the game for one person. I refuse to return even though I can afford it.
And don’t forget the peanuts and Cracker Jack.
That’ll be another eight bucks, pal.