Since the introduction of dynamic pricing in Houston, it seems there is more talk of ticket prices. Yes, my perception, but regardless, it's a topic of conversation among many of us who cheer for the Houston nine.
Dynamic pricing is simply the concept that ticket prices are adjusted based on demand. A game against the Texas Rangers will likely be more popular in Houston than a game against the Miami Marlins. As a result, fans are willing to pay more for a ticket, simply because there are more Texas Rangers fans in Houston than Miami Marlins fans. The same theory applies to teams performing better than other teams. People will pay more to see a better brand of baseball.
In addition to giving some flexibility around pricing game to game, dynamic pricing also encourages fans to invest in season tickets - something all baseball teams like. Generally, when purchasing a season ticket, fans are able to secure better pricing over the course of the season as they pay a set amount per game, rather than a dynamic fee.
So let's look at it in real life. The Yankees are coming to town next week. What's it going to cost to see them play the Houston Astros? Well, it depends on when you go. That's simply because the most in-demand game in the series is the Saturday 3:10pm game. If you like to sit in Field Box 1 Saturday's game will cost you $127 per ticket. But if you go to Thursday's game, which is less in demand, that same seat will be $98. Simply put, the prices on Thursday are lower because fewer fans will go to a Thursday game. Take note, this means that you can get a good deal on days that aren't in as much demand.
And as that series approaches, prices of those tickets may change based on the demand. If the Astros call up a prospect, the prices could rise. Depending on who is pitching, the prices could change. The ticket price is determined by demand. Because of all of these factors, buying tickets earlier is often financially wise.
But how does Houston compare to the rest of Major League Baseball?
Every year the Team Marketing Report compares the price of an average baseball ticket of each MLB team, and how it's changed. For the 2015 season, the average ticket price at Minute Maid Park is $31.82, a rise of 13.7% over 2014. It's also slightly above the MLB average of $28.94. If you purchased your tickets prior to the start of the season, you likely got a good deal as the Astros have surprised many of us this year with break out performances and a fantastic record, meaning that, in theory, demand for tickets will rise and as a result so will prices.
Where Houston's ticket prices have risen, the club has invested heavily in the fan experience and improvements around the ballpark to insure that you get a better fan experience for that ticket price. In addition, Houston's total fan cost index (FCI), the cost of four non-premium tickets, two beers, four sodas, four hot dogs, parking and two adult-size hats, is $220.28, an increase of only 6%, less than the rise of the tickets by themselves. A glance across the league's FCI tells me that Houston's prices on beer, caps and hot dogs are some of the lowest in baseball.
If you want to spend the least amount to go watch live baseball, you'll have to go to Arizona, where the average ticket price is only $17.98 and the FCI is a league lowest $126.89. You'll pay only $1.50 for a soda at Chase Field. The most expensive place to watch a game with your family is, not surprisingly, Fenway Park, where the FCI is a staggering $350.86 and that same soda will cost you $5.00. Ouch!
While Houston's team on the field improves, we'll take a hit for that in our wallets to some degree. As tickets are more in demand, prices will rise, but only as the market for them dictates. If you've been to many games at Minute Maid Park this season, you've likely noticed that despite the exciting and fun season of great baseball thus far, the stands are not jam-packed. There's still not a significantly different demand for tickets day in and day out. That will change over time, so now is as good a time as any to get to see the Houston Astros play good baseball without breaking the bank.