The Overpriced Sports Event

Professional sports events are just too expensive for the middle class.

Attending a professional sports event is increasingly becoming overpriced. Watching sports events on television is a great alternative for its fans. Many people like to catch an afternoon football or baseball game for some relaxation time. The T.V. coverage for professional sports has grown throughout the years with cable companies and streaming services offering more specialized viewing packages. The availability to watch just about any major type of professional sport on television is great. However, attending them live is a completely different experience.

Going to view live sporting events, unfortunately, is becoming just too expensive for the middle class. Furthermore, lower-income families would have a difficult time paying for a small family to attend a few games during a season. The costs for tickets, refreshments, and merchandise has increased at such an alarming rate that it is outpacing what most people can afford.

Example Average Pricing for Attending Professional Sports

According to, the average ticket price to a Chicago Cubs baseball game is $58.57. A Tampa Bay Rays game average ticket is $21.60, which to many people would be more affordable. Yet, the true cost of going to see a professional team play also includes parking, refreshments, and any merchandise that a fan would want to buy. The cost to park a car could easily run between $10-$20 or more. A nice ice-cold beer has an NFL football average price of $8.17 while a soft drink is $4.71. For a family of four the cost to attend a game could run hundreds of dollars for a few hours of entertainment.

Why are Sporting Events Expensive?


The cause for high prices to see a professional sport is due to the cost. They have become more expensive over time. Rising player salaries and the construction of extravagant stadiums is the principal reason.

The average NFL football player entering the league for the 2019 season will earn an average salary of $495,000. Football fans will also be supporting some of the highest paid players, such as Arron Rodger of the Green Bay Packers, with a reported yearly salary of over 33 million. Baseball has an even higher average salary at over 4 million dollars a year.

The need to impress fans who pay the high-ticket prices to attend is also raising the prices with the creation of mega stadiums. Building these new structures appears to have a cost of 1 billion dollars or more. Taxpayers often pick up part of this cost. But some of it will come from the sports franchise even if it is not the bulk of the cost.

Rising player salaries and mega stadiums are increasing sporting event attendance costs.

Team Support

Another reason it costs so much to attend professional sports games is team support. The reality is that as long as people are willing to pay the high prices and fill stadium seats teams will keep the expensive price tag. Player salaries will keep rising and also the price of a hot dog.

It is not only ticket prices that are supporting the high price of professional sport franchise teams. A big part of their revenue comes from television networks. This money helps pay for the team salaries and supports the increasing contract asking prices. As long as there is a large viewer audience player salary will continue to rise as the cost for advertising increases.

The merchandise purchased by fans also adds to the income by professional sports. The price of a jersey or hat supports the rising income paid to star athletes. As the million-dollar contracts increase in size so will the merchandise, concession costs, ticket prices, and network television deals. A 2018 report by showed in a survey that 9.1 percent of the respondents stated they spent over $500 on sports apparel in the previous 12 months.

With support from sports fans willing to pay the high prices and events still being filled, there will be no slowdown in the increasing event costs anytime soon.

The Dangerous Costs to Attend Professional Sports

It’s hard to say how families still afford to attend live professional sports. With wealthier families, it is not so difficult. However, for the middle class, there can only be a presumption that credit cards come into use. Charging a day at the ballpark or taking in a Sunday NFL football game courtesy of the major credit card companies is likely the new normalcy. I have personally even known people that are willing to buy season tickets with the help of Visa. They then take a year or more to pay off the balance.

Because credit can be one of the only ways for some people to attend professional sports, it is no surprise that people are still supporting the high cost. It is almost just an expectation that it will be expensive to attend. Teams have caught onto this and in some instances are even making it easier to use credit.

The Tampa Bay Rays baseball team, which is still somewhat affordable to get a ticket, has made their stadium cash free this year. To purchase a ticket at the box office or refreshments a debit or credit card is required. With debit cards being able to be used as a credit card it could be a substitute for a true credit card. Yet, my suspicion is that a majority of the plastic used will be a conventional credit card.

Tampa Bay is one of the first major league baseball teams to go cashless at their games, but I don’t believe they will be the last. Their decision has caught some backlash from fans. They have spun it to say it will make concessions faster and lines shorter. Although this could be a good argument, is it really the reason? My personal opinion is no. The true reason to go cashless is more money for the team.

If you have ever gone to a Tampa Bay Rays game, you know they hardly fill the stands with the exception of the opening day or if they make the playoffs. The lines for getting in and concession are not overly long compared to other teams. Creating a cashless baseball stadium encourages overspending on credit.

Some may argue that Tampa Bay has made the option to purchase gift cards to use in place of a credit or debit card. This is for people that do not have traditional plastic to use. Yes, this is true. But what about the balance left at the end of the game? If a $25 gift card is purchased and $18.43 is used, where does the balance go? It is still on the card and may never be used. Thus, this more income for the team.

The real people hurt by a cashless stadium policy are the workers who receive tips. Yes, you can put a tip on a credit/debit card or a gift card, but will it be the same? The answer is no. There is no secret to knowing that people in the service industry do not often claim all of their tips for the purpose of taxes. A tip on a credit/debit card or gift card turns out to be much less.


Experiencing life is important and there shouldn’t really be a cost put on it. We are all only on this earth for a period of time. Attending sports and seeing professional athletes play at a high level is certainly an experience that many people would like to have and should be able to do in their lifetime. However, doing this should not put a person into debt.

The rising multi million-dollar athlete paychecks are not going to go down any time soon. They will likely keep increasing over time as they previously have. It can be argued that the owners make millions as well so why shouldn’t athletes get their share? I can’t argue with this. Top athletes should be paid fairly along with owners. Nevertheless, they are pushing away many of their dedicated fans and the chance for their children to experience seeing their favorite player in person.

The result of out pricing the option for many fans to see professional athletes play will be only the elite are able to go to the game. This is much like the Super Bowl has become with only the privileged or corporate sponsors being able to attend. Professional sports have always been somewhat of a business first, but it is now truer than at any other time.

The ever-increasing prices to attend sports events will likely not keep people from attending overall. However, it will continue to make it more difficult for many families to attend them. In addition, it will likely put people in a position to choose debt for the live sports experience.

My overall opinion is that people should live some of life’s experiences, but the number of games a person attends will not be what it may have been in years past. This also holds true for the future. With increasing professional athlete salaries, owners that want to profit more, and the desire to build mega stadiums, middle-income families will need to enjoy watching more of their favorite teams on television.

Will there ever be a time when professional sports will be more affordable again? What do you think?


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