The high cost of being a sports fan

Sports fans buy memorabilia.

Fans shop ahead of Game 3 of the National League Championship Series between the San Diego Padres and the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, October 21, 2022 in Philadelphia. (Image: AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Philadelphia may be on the verge of crowning itself the new City of Champions as the Phillies will play in their first World Series since 2009, the Eagles are 6-0 and the NFL’s only undefeated team, and the Union has the best record in the NFL holds Eastern MLS conference. Basketball and hockey have just started their seasons, but big things are expected of the Harden- and Embiid-led Sixers, and there’s always hope for the Flyers.

Philly fanatics are fired up as always, but how much does all this sports fandom cost?

According to MLB and NFL, demand for Phillies and Eagles games has increased as each team has racked up more wins.

Prior to their Game 5 win over the San Diego Padres in the National League Championship Series, Phillies tickets were selling for an average of $372.32 per ticket, according to MLB. According to CNBC, the average ticket price for upcoming World Series games in Philadelphia is more than $3,000 — the second-highest price for a single championship game in over a decade.

According to StubHub, tickets to Sunday’s Steelers vs. Eagles game at Lincoln Financial Field range from $261 to $9,214, not to mention the cost of parking, snacks, and souvenirs.

Adi Wyner, professor of statistics and faculty director at the Wharton Sports Analytics and Business Initiative, says the high cost of being a sports fan is simply supply and demand.

“When there’s a shortage, prices go up,” says Wyner. “Playoff baseball games and home football team games are expensive for the average person. On the other hand, there were affordable tickets all season long and people didn’t buy them. World Series prices have predictably skyrocketed, but for some it may still be worth the price as a World Series game in Philly is a memorable experience unlike any other city.”

Inflation tightens wallets but doesn’t hurt local sports fans’ experience, Wyner explains.

“Games have always been expensive, with food and concessions, and not everything has gone up straight away,” he says. “I can imagine that when money gets tighter it can affect how many people go to a game because going to one is an expensive experience. Bringing a family of four to a game is remarkably expensive.”

Wyner says there are other costs that speak to the business psychology behind sports fans, such as time costs and sports betting.

“Being an avid sports fan is time-consuming, but it depends on how it’s used,” he says. “Some fans like to have games playing in the background on the TV and while they watch they do their work or chores. But you can’t do that in all sports, e.g. B. Fast sports like hockey where you miss something if you blink. Of course, going to a game is a wonderful family celebration, but it is often very expensive.”

Sports betting has grown and has a side to various societal issues, according to Wyner, but in return offers more engagement and interest in sports.

“Sports betting gets people much more excited about sports, especially when they’re betting,” he says.

Competitive sport has been an integral part of society for thousands of years. Gladiator fights in the Roman Empire had an economy of winners and losers. Philadelphia’s famous (or notorious) sports fandom isn’t a new phenomenon.

“They are disproportionately important in relation to their economic size,” he says. “Sport as a market is worth billions of dollars, but it’s tiny relative to the size of the economy. Many companies are much bigger than the collection of sports, but sports take an incredible amount of mental energy from people.”

He says fans control the pricing of the market. As long as fans continue to buy items at market price, teams will continue to increase their prices, according to Wyner.

“So many games are on TV,” he says. “Depending on how much you watch, there are many streaming all-inclusive packages that make life as a sports fan affordable. Also, being able to compete in collegiate sporting events is another cheaper option.”

Other options to combat a sports fan’s high expense include purchasing upper-level seating, eating with family before the game, and using public transport when available.


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