Exorbitant Ticket Prices at the New Yankee Stadium:

I have written several posts criticizing the massive public subsidies for the new Yankee Stadium (see here, here, here, and here). Hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds were expended, more than on any other stadium project in American (and possibly world) history.

In exchange for all this public largesse, you might expect that New York taxpayers would at least get the opportunity to purchase tickets at reasonable prices. Not so much... The prices are so high that many seats are going unsold, creating public relations problems for the team. Even after the franchise cut prices in reaction to anemic sales, the new rates are still extremely high. For example,, seats near home plate still cost $1250 each after a 50% price cut. For New Yorkers looking for really high-end seats, it would be much cheaper to fly to see the Yankees play in Seattle [HT: Tyler Cowen]:

Ticket prices at the new Yankee Stadium are so high that if a New Yorker wants to watch a Mariners/Yankees game from the best seats, it would be a lot cheaper to fly to Seattle, stay in a nice hotel, eat fancy dinners, and see two games.

Option 1: Two tickets to Tuesday night, June 30, Mariners at Yanks, cost for just thetickets, $5,000.

Option 2: Two round-trip airline tickets to Seattle, Friday, Aug. 14, return Sunday the 16th, rental car for three days, two-night double occupancy stay in four-star hotel, two top tickets to both the Saturday and Sunday Yanks-Mariners games, two best-restaurant-in-town dinners for two. Total cost, $2,800. Plus-frequent flyer miles.

Normally, I wouldn't have any comment on the pricing policies of a private business. If a firm charges ridiculously high prices, they will be punished by the market and consumers will go elsewhere. People who don't like the price don't have to buy the product. In this case, however, the Yankees' insistence on extraordinarily high prices further cuts into the taxpayers' ability to get even a slight return on their investment. Government subsidization of sports stadiums almost always inflicts more economic harm on the public than it creates benefits. Charging exorbitant ticket prices adds insult to injury. Moreover, it's possible that the taxpayers will end up covering part of the Yankees' revenue shortfall, since the team has a consistent record of asking for (and getting) additional government subsidies each time the new stadium project ran into trouble.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Exorbitant Ticket Prices at the New Yankee Stadium:
  2. The New York Times on Public Funding for the New Yankee Stadium:
Cornellian (mail):
I wouldn't pay any professional sports team so much as a dime out of public funds. Let them go leech off some other city government, and good riddance.
5.16.2009 3:08am
josh bornstein (mail) (www):
I echo Cornellian. As one who lives in LA, I am very happy that we've been without a football team for years. No problem with a team moving here. But, as stated above, with ZERO public funds donated (no tax breaks, no land give-aways, no nothing). The fact that the woeful Raiders have fled back north is icing on the cake.
5.16.2009 5:23am
Capitolism in action.
5.16.2009 6:47am
J. Aldridge:
Think their tickets are outrageous you should check Yankee salaries.
5.16.2009 7:38am
It's almost as if the government were'nt very good at spending money effectively
5.16.2009 7:43am
geokstr (mail):
But we need those tax breaks and government incentives and high priced tickets. Otherwise the economics don't work.

How else can they generate sufficient revenues to adequately compensate employees with the IQ of steamed broccoli and drug-induced giantism so that they can support their 12 kids in 11 different cities?

Please, have some empathy here.
5.16.2009 8:17am
ChrisIowa (mail):
Try minor league baseball. Though public funds are still used for the stadiums the dollar amounts are less and at least the ticket prices are affordable.
5.16.2009 8:31am
replica rolex (mail) (www):
Hi. Good site thanks :)
5.16.2009 8:50am
Justin (mail):
Government subsidization has practically nothing to do with the price of tickets at New Yankee Stadium. It's solely acting as a tie-in or excuse. Yes, its a distinction from the fictional laissez-faire capitalism that you would be hypocritical to complain about. But it isn't really a relevant distinction, is it?
5.16.2009 9:40am
byomtov (mail):
Government subsidization has practically nothing to do with the price of tickets at New Yankee Stadium.

True, but I don't think that's the point. Ilya's complaint, as I understand it, is that given subsidization the team should have some obligation to make tickets affordable, rather than simply trying to maximize revenue.
5.16.2009 10:26am
Dan28 (mail):
I cannot believe that the city of New York bought that freaking stadium, and the Yankees really told the city to f off by spending $200 million on free agents the same year that they took hundreds of millions from the public. How exactly is it in the public interest of New Yorkers to subsidize C.C. Sabathia or Mark Teixiera? This wasn't even done as a misguided approach to economic development; this was pure city of NYC royalty enriching other NYC royalty to build a freaking palace. It's disgusting.

I say that as a Democrat and a Red Sox fan, of course
5.16.2009 10:31am
John Burgess (mail) (www):
ChrisIowa: My town--Sarasota, FL--just lost the Cincinnati Reds spring training. The Reds wanted a new stadium and the city was unwilling to come up with the subsidies the Reds wanted. Some place out in Arizona gets them next February.

The city tried to get the Red Sox to move up from Ft. Meyers, but that city had a fatter wallet. Then the city tried for--and is still trying as best I can divine--for the Baltimore Orioles.

No big loss, as far as taxpayers are concerned, I guess. There is a loss with the Reds Single-A affiliate, though. The best seats for those games run $7.00, for a box seat behind home plate. Those Single-A games were a good deal all around.

The city calculated its direct and indirect earnings from having a pro team in the tens of millions, with a few hundred jobs attached. The earnings and jobs loss are not particularly welcome just now.
5.16.2009 10:35am
5.16.2009 10:38am
TomHynes (mail):
I assume that the Yankees are trying to maximize profit.

They may look at the demand curve for high priced tickets and say "It is better to sell 90% of them at $1,250 each than 100% at $1,000 each".

Ilya, are you saying that a business shouldn't profit maximize just because they received a government subsidy? That once any company receives a government subsidy it must act in the public interest, not the shareholders? The public interest as defined by elites such as Ilya Somin?

Do you want them to sell the top tickets for $1,000? Are you concerned about people that can pay $1,000 for a ticket, but not $1,250? Do you want them to sell the top tickets for $50?

Of course I am outraged by the subsidies, but those are sunk costs to be ignored.
5.16.2009 10:53am
I say that as a Democrat and a Red Sox fan, of course

That's the way to fix problems in New York City government - more Democrats.
5.16.2009 11:59am
Time for a little perspective here, folks. Only selected premium seats go for $2000+ a pop. Fans have many other seating options ranging from $14 to $375 (see Yankees Ticket Prices). I suspect that most of the $2000+ seats were targeted at corporate purchasers (many of which may not be buying because of the negative PR potential). I don't doubt that there is merit to the argument that subsidizing outrageously expensive ballparks with taspayer money is flawed, but to suggest that because the average fan can't afford to sit in the very best seats in the house "further cuts into the taxpayers' ability to get even a slight return on their investment" seems fairly myopic.
5.16.2009 12:34pm
Just an observation by a taxpayer who recently was innudated with the typical political spin that projects such as this are "economic engines" representing the potential for untold wealth to the local economy. Of course, economists who have closely studied such issues and arrived, virtually unanimously, at opposite conclusions are shouted down as rabble-rousers who are out of touch with reality. This "debate" recently occurred in Orlando when the local NBA franchise decreed it had to have a new arena to replace the one that was built about 19 years ago. Of course the unspoken threat was "Build it or we will leave for another city that will build one for us."

What I find fascinating is how these arguments are playing out in a lawsuit by Seattle against the former Seattle Supersonics. When they wanted an arena the tried and true "economic engine" argument was trotted out. Now that the team's move to Oklahoma has taken place, the team's defense relies in significant part on the studies by the very economists earlier villified by proponents that strongly suggest there is no such "economic engine" benefit.

Hmmm... A "economic engine" when a demand is made for an arena to be built, and a "non-economic engine" when a team decides to move.

Is it just me, or does there seem to be a gaping inconsistency?
5.16.2009 12:41pm
Richard A. (mail):
I checked the other day and those $2,650 seats could be had for a mere $900. Such a bargain!

Even at that price, the Yankees aren't publicizing it for fear of admitting a mistake.
5.16.2009 12:45pm
John (mail):
If the public should have gotten better ticket prices, it could have been bargained for. It wasn't. There is nothing to suggest the Yankees aren't holding up their end of the deal. If you are disgruntled, blame the politicians, not the Yankees.
5.16.2009 1:12pm
Ilya, your blockquotes are backwards.
5.16.2009 1:16pm
Kharn (mail):
For the same view at Camden Yards (directly behind home plate, lowest level), you're looking at $55-80 for any game of the season. Sure, it does not come with an all-you-can-eat suite but the usher will bring whichever beer/food guy you want to your seat so you never have to leave. And that extra $820 you saved can buy an awful lot of beer at ballpark prices.

It's not a surprise that so many Yankees/Red Socks fans fly down to B'more and stay for all three games.
5.16.2009 2:30pm
trad and anon (mail):
5.16.2009 3:19pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Very much the same thing can be said of the Olympics. The host government spends huge sums for what appears to be little benefit in the long run building facilities that are often of little use once the Olympics are over. Even quite ordinary seats at preliminary events are very expensive. There are plenty of international events of comparable level in most sports. And finally, contrary to their charter, the Olympics promote jingoism.
5.16.2009 4:04pm

"many of which may not be buying because of the negative PR potential"

Or, you know, lack of ready money, or perhaps a newfound soberness.

Some aspects of recessions are underrated.
5.16.2009 5:13pm
lonetown (mail):
I think they would have to bring Babe Ruth back from the dead to justify those kind of prices.

and then, only for a grudge match against the Boston Red Sox.
5.16.2009 5:43pm
I dunno, spending public money on stadiums where overpaid ballplayers perform doesn't offend me any more than spending public money on law schools where lib/lab professors with guaranteed lifetime employment deliver to biglaw their performance rankings of its future associates.
5.16.2009 6:42pm
Taxpayer subsidies of sports teams are as stupid as they are immoral. The government officials who provide them are especially stupid; the team owners who pursue them are especially immoral.
5.16.2009 7:44pm
Sam H (mail):

Taxpayer subsidies of sports teams are as stupid as they are immoral. The government officials who provide them are especially stupid; the team owners who pursue them are especially immoral.

I beg to differ. The government officials, at least in DFW, get a free box to use.
5.16.2009 8:25pm
I did not intend to state that public officials' stupidity could not be accompanied by immorality, corruptibility, or any other loathsome attribute. I apologize for any confusion.
5.16.2009 9:09pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

They may look at the demand curve for high priced tickets

As I understand it, physicists have proven that the demand doesn't actually curve, it's an optical illusion.

Now, the Demand Spitter is another story altogether.
5.17.2009 7:46am
Cecil Moon (mail):
On just about any given Saturday down here in the Ozarks, you could take that $1250 to an auction and get a pretty good used pick-up. But then, we're not as bright as those big city fellers.

Given current economic conditions I would suggest you squirrel that $1250 away under the mattress and let the pin-stripers play to an empty house.
5.17.2009 11:30am

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