In 1950, Dodgers’ Hall of Fame Broadcaster Vin Scully called his first game for the team at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. A ticket for that game cost $1.25.
Scully would continue to do the play-by-play for the Dodgers for the next 67 years. When he retired in 2016, the average price for a ticket at Dodger Stadium was $31.90.
Scully passed away earlier this week at the age of 94. The Dodgers orchestrated a touching and heartfelt pregame ceremony for the broadcasting legend. The get-in price for that game was $201.
Needless to say, because of inflation and supply-chain issues, the cost for fans to go to Dodger Stadium to watch their beloved Dodgers has increased exponentially over the last 70 seasons, and even the last several seasons.
Suddenly, the lyrics from the most famous baseball song, “take me out to the ball game,” takes on a new meaning. “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,” will probably cost you close to $20. “I don’t care if I never get back,” chances are you might not be able to afford to come back.
There’s a myriad of reasons why costs have risen so suddenly at stadiums across the country. Everything can be called back to the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down the economy for the majority of 2020, and led to trillions of dollars in government stimulus and relief for businesses and individuals to stay afloat. That influx of cash has directly contributed to record-high inflation which reached over 9% in June of 2022. COVID-19 has also contributed to supply-chain disruptions on many goods needed for our everyday lives. Factor in the war between Russia and Ukraine that has led to a rise in gas prices, and you have the perfect storm for prices to increase. This has created a ripple effect directly on consumers and baseball fans at the ballpark.
Recently, a website entitled The Hustle, analyzed how much it costs for a family of four to attend a baseball game in the year 2022. The genesis of the article was based on LA resident Steven Martinez, who wanted to take his family of four to Disneyland. Once he crunched the numbers, he realized it would cost him over $1,000, a price tag he was unable to afford.
The Hustle discovered that the average family income from 1950 (roughly $5,000 per year), is now $84,000 in 2022. That’s an increase 1395%. However, the price of goods and services has increased more than three times that. Let’s take the average price of a ticket to go see a Dodgers game as an example.
In 1950, a ticket to go see the then Brooklyn Dodgers was $1.25. Today, the average price for a ticket at Dodger Stadium is between $45-$55 (depending on the game). That’s an increase of over 4300%. Long story short, even though the average income has increased with inflation, the purchasing power of that income is about three times lower than it used to be back in 1950.
The Hustle wanted to calculate the cost for a family of four to go to a baseball game in 2022. They utilized the FanCostIndex to compile the data for the average cost of tickets, parking, hot dogs, sodas, and beer at all 30 MLB stadiums in the United States and Canada.
The data discovered that the cheapest ballpark in baseball is Chase Field in Arizona where a family of four can expect to spend an average of $126 to go to a game, eat and drink. The most expensive stadium is Fenway Park, where fans will pay on average over $325 four people to attend a game with food and beverages. The average price across the league was $205.00 for a family of four.
Where does Dodger Stadium factor in all of this?
The Dodgers are slightly above the average price, with The Hustle listing the average price for a family of four to attend a game at Dodger Stadium at $265.93. Only here’s the thing, that’s not the actual price of those items (tickets, parking, hot dogs, sodas and beer) at Chavez Ravine.
NBC LA Sports reporter Michael J. Duarte went out to the concessions stands all across Dodger Stadium and found the actual prices for Dodgers tickets, parking at the stadium, Dodger dogs, beer, and sodas. Here’s what he discovered:
The actual total average costs for a family of four to attend a Dodgers game is $424.00 far more than the original $265.00 from FanCostIndex, and at nearly $500 difficult for any low-income family to afford on more than a once a month basis.
Part of the reason for the increase at MLB stadiums is the lost revenue suffered by teams during the 60-game shortened season in 2020 that saw no fans at stadiums, and the limited capacity that California stadiums like Dodger Stadium had to have for the majority of the 2021 season.
The most notable difference was the increase in parking. Just a few short years ago, parking was $15 for regular family sized vehicles. In 2022, it was raised to $30 to help offset some of the revenue lost the previous two years.
Supply-chain demands have also forced concession stands across Dodger Stadium and Major League Baseball to raise their prices as well. Levy’s, the hospitality vendor for Dodger Stadium, said that the cost to acquire hot dogs increased nearly 30% from January of 2021 to May of 2022. That’s the highest annual increase in 30 years, according to one report.
The surge in wholesale hot dog prices were driven by record-high costs of the raw materials needed to package and ship them. Packaging, corrugate, labor, meat, spices, gas, all increased since the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic year.
Most people in the country heard about the chip production shortage during the first half of the 2022 year. The result of that led to labor shortages, and workers requesting wage increases in order to return to the workplace.
The increases in wholesale prices weren’t just limited to hot dogs. The cost of beer, water, and soda rose 5% from 2021 to 2022, with beer specifically increasing as much as 7% from 2021 in some cases.
“It’s the worst supply chain I’ve experienced in my 30-year history,” David Kourie, chief procurement officer and senior vice president of Sodexo North America, told ESPN.com last month.
Kourie and other financial experts believe that the country will continue to feel the effects of inflation for the next year or two. Inflation, coupled with record-high gas prices could keep prices high for the foreseeable future or they even could become the new normal as long as fans continue to pay them.
The Dodgers lead the majors in attendance this season and have for the last nine years. So if you’re planning on taking your family out to a ball game at the Ravine, be prepared to be a little bit more than in previous seasons for the next couple years.