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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Biggest cost increase to attend a Cardinals game since 2008

With the start of another new season, it is again time to analyze the annual Fan Cost Index (FCI)*, which compares the price for a family of four to attend a major league baseball game across the 30 franchises.

Comparable to their general position in annual payroll rankings, the St. Louis Cardinals hang near the bottom of the top third of the clubs. In 2011, they come in at number eight, up from ninth last year and 10th in 2009.

The club’s FCI of $223.18 represents an upturn of 3.1 percent compared to 2010. It is the eighth increase in the last nine years and most since a 3.8 percent increase in 2008.

Busch III Busch II

2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003
StL FCI $223.18 $216.56 $214.72 $217.28 $209.23 $207.21 $177.66 $170.45 $164.04
StL YTY 3.1% 0.9% -1.2% 3.8% 0.8% 10.6% 4.2% 0.9% 6.6%
MLB rank 8 9 10 7 7 4 9 9 8

MLB avg. $197.35 $194.98 $196.89 $191.75 $176.55 $171.19 $164.43 $155.52 $148.66
MLB YTY 2.0% -0.7% 3.2% 8.3% 3.8% 4.1% 5.6% 2.0% 3.3%

#1 FCI $339.01 $334.78 $410.88 $320.71 $313.83 $287.84 $276.34 $263.09 $248.44
Team Boston Boston Yankees Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston

#30 FCI $120.96 $115.24 $114.24 $136.91 $123.42 $120.35 $119.85 $108.83 $94.62
Team Arizona Arizona Arizona TB KC KC KC Montreal Montreal

Overall, Cardinals FCIs have grown less than eight percent in total since the large increase incurred in conjunction with the new ballpark opening in 2006. In fact, this year’s average ticket price of $31.17 is not quite even $1.50 higher than the team’s average ticket price of $29.78 in 2006. This bears further watching, however. With the new dynamic pricing structure being implemented in 2011, ticket prices should show greater volatility than ever before.

Across MLB, the 1.2 percent ticket increase this year is the smallest jump since the FCI’s 1991 inception after the previous low of 1.5 percent one year ago. That may have something to do with the fact that overall attendance in MLB was down 0.4 percent in 2010 on the heels of a six percent decline the year prior.

The Boston Red Sox rank first in MLB in average ticket price at $53.38 and lead in the FCI as well for the second consecutive year and eighth time in the last nine years. Their American League East rivals, the New York Yankees, are right behind.

The average FCI across MLB of $197.35 represents a 2.0 percent increase compared to last year. The best value in the game is the $120.96 it takes to see the Arizona Diamondbacks, lowest for the third year in a row.

The other teams in the NL Central rank as follows: Chicago Cubs (third, down from second), Houston Astros (ninth, up from 12th), both with above average FCIs. The other three reside in the bottom third of MLB clubs: Cincinnati Reds (21st, up from 25th), Milwaukee Brewers (23rd, same as 2010) and Pittsburgh Pirates (28th, same as in 2010).

* The FCI, developed by Team Marketing Report, is made up of the prices of two adult and two child average-price tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, parking for one car, two game programs and two least expensive, adult-size adjustable caps.

2011 Avg ticket Beer Soft drink Hot dog Parking Program Cap FCI
StL $31.17 $6.75 $5.25 $4.25 $10.00 $2.50 $16.00 $223.18
MLB $26.91 $5.81 $3.59 $3.88 $12.95 $3.28 $14.35 $197.35

Not every group of four would spend this much money, but it provides a consistent point of comparison across 30 teams over time.

How does the new dynamic ticket pricing affect your Cardinals game attendance plans?

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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