I have posted many rants about the crazy costs and wacky profit-grabbing schemes perpetrated by the lords of the realm of major league baseball. So, it's only fair to give credit where credit is due.... Cleveland! Via field of schemes*: the Indians are LOWERING concession prices for the upcoming baseball season.
I know we’re all used to thinking of sports franchises as money-hungry evil Machiavellian blood suckers, and they are (though economists still aren’t all in agreement on the blood thing). But sometimes they do things just because they’re dumb, whether it’s setting ticket prices so high that nobody sits in the good seats or giving Mike Hampton $121 million. Is it possible that jacking up food prices to beyond the point of ridiculousness is one of those?
According to Indians VP for marketing Alex King, maybe. Among his findings from the ThinkVine survey: dollar hot dog days were the biggest draw, even better than bobblehead giveaways. (Though fireworks nights did better at getting people out to the park when the team was losing.) And the most profitable promotions were cap giveaways, since caps can apparently be made for next to nothing, and everybody likes getting caps — as a result, you pretty much won’t be able to go near an Indians game this year without somebody shoving a cap in your hands. (Not mentioned in Lindbergh’s article: Caps are also a great form of free advertising.)
Now, he doesn't discuss the downside of lowering the price of beer from $5 to $4 per 12 ounce cup, which is presumably increased/overconsumption. But I have seen enough at sports events in the Bay Area to know that high beer prices don't really provide a ton of disincentive to that (and my personal suspicion is that high prices instead encourage overconsumption before and after the game to "pre party").
But, the Tribe is also dropping hot dog prices from $4.50 to $3, which we can all** agree is a good thing. And they'll have dollar dogs at FIFTEEN games. FoS was linking a CNBC article, which includes a nice quote from the Cleveland FO:
"Through the course of those surveys, we understand that concessions was a barrier to the enjoyment part of attending a baseball game in Cleveland," said Kurt Schloss, the team's Vice President of Concessions. "Based on that feedback, it turned into how do we change the perception of attending a game and turn it into a positive."
Understand that this is a revolutionary thing for the baseball economics model, which since at least the days Bill Veeck was selling "red hots" in Cubs Park has been based on (relatively) lower ticket prices and making it up in concessions. Minor league baseball still bans outside food and drinks (including bottled water). At least in San Jose and Modesto, they make decent food available, so for example the barbecue in SJ is well worth the price, and the churros are an unbelievable and delicious deal.
But let's hope that while they implement in-game double sales of tickets, at least someone running one ball club has noticed that there may be different ways to satisfy fans. At least in Cleveland.
*: for some nice reading on the "economic benefits" of hosting an NCAA regional, check out his latest post.
**: For discussion purposes, I am assuming that rat hair and byproducts of characters in Upton Sinclair novels are nourishing and delicious. I'm also assuming they are reducing prices on veggie dogs, so shut your vegan face.