Baseball returns, but can fans afford to see the games?

It was hard to generate any sympathy for the players or owners in the recent labor battle for Major League Baseball. There were some valid reasons why the two sides were butting heads, but I’m glad the owners and players finally ended the stalemate and agreed to let the games begin again.

I think the strike would have ended much sooner if the player reps and owners had met in Ukraine during its war with Russia. That would have been a reality check for sure!

As for the fans, trust me, neither the owners or players have your best interests at heart. They will continue to charge exorbitant prices for merchandise, tickets, parking, concessions at games, and anything else they can think of.

Nevertheless, most die-hard baseball fans will return to the ballpark regardless of the cost. And that cost is plenty high.

Attending an MLB game is still more affordable than professional football or basketball, primarily because more games are played. The price is still substantial though, and our economy isn’t helping.

The cost of food, gas and nearly everything else is on the rise. Inflation is the highest it has been in 40 years. Before blaming the Russia / Ukraine war, the fact is that prices in the U.S. were escalating before the war started.

During the latest MLB strike, it occurred to me that we don’t hear as much about labor strikes as we used to. I’m at a point now where if the players and owners can’t figure out how to make things work, there are other things to do with my time for less money.

Therein lies the rub. I’ve been a baseball fan ever since I was a kid. But how committed is the average baseball fan to the sport?

Let’s look at the issue for fans through a financial lens. How much does it cost to see a Royals game if your home is in Marion Co.? The driving distance is roughly 180 miles one way. If gas goes up to $4 a gallon, which is plausible, the round-trip alone will be about $50.

In 2021, it cost an average of $253 for a group of four people to attend an MLB game, not including the cost of driving to and from the game. And unless you have a rich uncle or connections to the front office, don’t even think about sitting in the front row.┬áThe average price for a ticket for any game ranges from $700 dollars to $1,700. Among 30 MLB teams, the average ticket now costs $65.

Even the cheap seats aren’t as cheap as they used to be, although there are some weekday games with lower ticket prices, especially if you are willing to sit in the nosebleed section.

I don’t begrudge players and owners for making their millions, but in this economy, asking fans to fork over big bucks and spend more money to watch a game in person is becoming a big ask.

Even sports nuts like me realize there are more important things than baseball. Consider the following:

If you have been physically healthy for most of your life, you are blessed.

If you are in a job that pays you fairly, and it pays the bills for a place to live, clothes, and food, you are indeed blessed.

If you have family and friends who encourage you and support you at different stages of life, you are blessed.

Be very thankful if you are happily married. Many people, including a lot of high-profile athletes, aren’t.

If you don’t have to worry about where your next meal is coming from, you are in better shape than many people in the world.

There’s still a lot to like about baseball, but life has a way of helping us keep things in perspective and reminding us what’s important.

One writer summed it up by saying that we have an entire generation of people who are not only less interested in the sport, but also less able to even afford it in the first place.

That’s too bad.

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