"Mew mew mew, how can we POSSIBLY hope to pay these mean, greedy players all of the money, mew mew mew"https://deadspin.com/how-much-longer-wi ... 1833463105
The most recent example of a team squeezing fans from every angle possible can be found in the Washington Nationals’ bag ban. Joining in the American tradition of impeding ease of access to public spaces through feckless security theater, the Nats announced that backpacks will no longer be allowed in the stadium. “The bag policy was created for the safety of all our guests,” explained the team in a statement, ignoring the fact that there is scant evidence that such security measures actually make anyone safer. What is certain, though, is that the Nats’ bag ban will inconvenience fans while separating them from more of their money.
The Nationals waited more than a month after announcing the ban to reveal that they had partnered with D.C-based startup Binbox to “make 500 medium- and large-sized storage lockers available” in which to store bags that won’t be allowed in the stadium. Binbox, in the laudable startup tradition of providing an already existing service but in a more complicated and expensive fashion, offers a baffling pricing scheme of “$2 per hour, charged in six-minute increments.” Also, payments have to be processed through an app called Stripe, so now fans can look forward to downloading a useless app they’ll never otherwise need and stressing out over each pitching change that threatens to extend the game by another six minutes. Dumber still is the fact that, according to the Washington Post, backpacks will need to be searched by a security staffer before they can be placed in the Binbox, which should make you wonder why a bag that’s been deemed safe by security is somehow still too dangerous to bring into the stadium.
The average cost of an MLB ticket rose to $32.99 in 2019, a 48-percent increase since 2006, far outstripping the 25.4-percent inflation rate over the same period. The Dodgers, after charging $60 for gate parking during the World Series last year, hiked in-season gate rates to start at $25. The Nationals, in addition to the bag ban, do not offer a parking option cheaper than $20, and that one is four-fifths of a mile from the stadium—it will cost $48 to park in one of the lots directly across from Nationals Park, plus a $6 fee to purchase either pass online. Third-party parking options exist, but most involve walking distances that are simply unfeasible for many, particularly families. Meanwhile, stadium concession prices have risen to insulting levels, even considering the minuscule decrease to the average cost for a beer ($5.97), hot dog ($4.95), and soda ($4.60) in the 2019 season, per Team Marketing Report.
The use of personal seat licenses (PSLs), a nasty practice pioneered by the NFL wherein a fan pays a fee for the privilege of then purchasing season tickets, has also been quietly implemented by the Diamondbacks, Twins, Padres, Giants, and Cardinals in recent years. Fan derision kept the Rangers from instituting PSLs at their new ballpark that will be opening next year, but there was no saving them from a heavy increase in season ticket prices. One 25-year season ticket holder told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that his per-game ticket price will be increasing from $25 to $200 when the new stadium opens.
Teams love to talk about how new and renovated stadiums will greatly improve the fan experience, but the primary purpose of such improvements is always to extract more money from fans. Each new season brings another set of teams adding premium fan clubs to their stadiums, which are enclosed spaces separated from the regular concourses and seating areas that are only accessible to fans who have purchased a certain tier of ticket. These areas, which teams can sell the lucrative naming rights to, are meant to offer fans an elevated experience, complete with fine-dining options and craft cocktails. The Chicago Cubs are set to open three such clubs this season, and the Indians are set to complete renovations on their stadium (in part funded with $2.9 million of public funds collected from a “sin tax” on alcohol and cigarettes for repairs to Progressive Field), which include a luxury “Club Lounge” only accessible to season ticket holders, who will pay at least $62.75 per game for the privilege of watching the game on “two arrays of nine 75-inch TVs.”
Perhaps there are fans out there who want to go to a baseball game and spend the afternoon watching the game in a replacement-level sports bar while munching on a $15 bison burger or easy-bake dessert, but the more obvious answer to the question of why these clubs are becoming so prevalent is that they allow teams to bake higher costs into ticket prices. For example, let’s say you buy a ticket to see the Mets play at their home stadium. You may not even realize until reading the fine print that your $65.00 ticket includes access to the Foxwoods Club. You never really asked for or wanted access to the Foxwoods Club, but now you have it, and so in the fourth inning you decide to walk over and see what it’s about. What you will find is a large room that that looks like an airport bar and contains all the charm of a mall food court. You’ll be able to buy sushi in there, which you can enjoy while watching the Mets lose on a television screen affixed to a pole near one of the trash cans. If you’re disappointed by the concessions offered in this exclusive and luxurious sector of the stadium, it’s probably because the Mets’ executive chef is busy brainstorming their latest batch of disgusting and overpriced stunt food, which won’t be designed to be enjoyed by fans, but to be talked about and promoted by shills in the media. Eventually, you’ll return to your seat, forced to wonder if a brief trip to the Foxwoods Club was worth the increase in the ticket price that you probably didn’t even realize you were paying.