Special Report

The 10 Cheapest Tickets in Baseball

The Major League Baseball (MLB) season is in full swing, with the National League winning the All-Star game last week. We are now also in the middle of summer, when millions of Americans grab their friends, families, some ballpark food and the cheapest bleacher seats they can find to watch the national pastime. Of course, exactly how cheap these “cheap seats” are depends on where you live.

Read: The 10 Cheapest Tickets in Baseball

24/7 Wall St. worked with SeatGeek, a search engine for event tickets, to identify the 10 cheapest sections of the 30 major league baseball stadiums in 2011. While the average ticket price for each field is between $33 and $81, it is possible to find seats that are $10 or less, as long as you are willing to sit a bit far away from the action.

Every stadium in baseball has sections deep in the bleachers, generally undesirable seats that franchises have to charge much less for in order to fill them and reach capacity. In many cases, the teams with the lowest-priced cheap sections have other factors driving prices down throughout the stadium. Of the ballparks on our list, seven have among the 10 cheapest average ticket prices for 2012.

24/7 Wall St. spoke to SeatGeek’s director of communications, Will Flaherty, who explained that the size of the stadium and the ability of each franchise to fill that stadium are the biggest driving forces behind the average price of tickets. A review of stadium capacity and attendance confirms that.

Five of the teams on our list have among the top 10 largest stadium capacities in the sport, including the Rockies at number 2, which can hold 50,398, and the L.A. Dodgers’ stadium, which can seat 56,000 fans. Only two of the eight teams on our list averaged better than 75% capacity at home games last year, and only three have this year.

Another major factor that can drive down ticket prices is the economic situation of the markets these teams depend upon. Franchises with more low-income fans cannot afford to charge exorbitant prices for their tickets. A review of the greater regions where each of these teams are located shows that all but two are in the bottom half of median incomes, and three are among the bottom five.

The 10 teams on our list are generally located in smaller cities than other MLB teams, yet their stadium sizes do not necessarily reflect the capacity of their markets. The New York Yankees, supported by 6.8 million households in the metropolitan area, will always have an easier time filling their stadium’s 42,000 seats than the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite having a similar size stadium, it is supported by a population of just 615,000.

While all of these factors drive down ticket prices throughout these stadiums, in some cases, these particular cheap seats have something wrong with them. Several have obstructions, like a column partially blocking the view of those sitting in section 421 in Milwaukee. Most are just extremely far away from the action, as is the case with the deep, deep center field “Rockpile” seats at Coors stadium in Colorado.

Also Read: The Most Expensive Tickets in Sports

SeatGeek provided average secondary market prices by section for each team in Major League Baseball, from the beginning of this year through the all-star break. 24/7 Wall St. ranked all 30 teams by the price of their cheapest section to find the 10 cheapest. Seatgeek.com also provided average ticket prices for all secondary-market tickets in each stadium for this year. We also reviewed team attendance and records as of July 18, provided by ESPN, median income and population for 2010, provided by the Census Bureau, and stadium capacity, provided by team websites.

These are the 10 cheapest tickets in baseball.

10. Colorado Rockies
> Price of cheapest section: $13.50
> 2012 W/L record: 35-55 (2nd lowest)
> Stadium seating capacity: 50,398 (2nd highest)
> Avg. home game attendance: 34,059 (13th highest)

When the Rockies got their start in 1993 and played for two years in the football-baseball hybrid Mile High Stadium, the section in the far, deep center field was called the Rockpile and tickets cost $1. The new Coors Field continued that tradition, building the same deep center field seats and charging $1, at least for children and seniors. Coors Stadium has the second-largest seating capacity in baseball, and this year, with the Rockies holding the second-worst record in baseball so far, they have only been able to fill the stadium to an average of 67.5% capacity. Up until the 2012 All-Star game, the average secondary market Colorado ticket cost $36.72, the sixth-lowest average price in the MLB.

9. Houston Astros
> Price of cheapest section: $9.88
> 2012 W/L record: 34-57 (the lowest)
> Stadium seating capacity: 40,981 (9th lowest)
> Avg. home game attendance: 22,049 (4th lowest)

While the average ticket to an Astro game is $47.87 (15th highest), tickets in section 427 of View Deck II have gone for an average price of only $9.88. Yet, despite the availability of tickets under $10, fans are not flocking to watch the team. The stadium has only filled 53.8% of its seats for the average home game in 2012, less than all teams except for two. But people may not be missing much. The Houston Astros in 2011 had the worst record in baseball and are on pace for the same fate in the current season.

8. Pittsburgh Pirates
> Price of cheapest section: $9.80
> 2012 W/L record: 50-40 (6th highest)
> Stadium seating capacity: 38,362 (6th lowest)
> Avg. home game attendance: 25,474 (8th lowest)

The average secondary market ticket at Pittsburgh’s PNC Stadium this year is just $35.08, the second-cheapest in baseball. Median income in the Pittsburgh metro region is $46,700, the fourth-lowest for a MLB market. The cheapest section in the stadium is in the upper grandstand on the third base side of the park. PNC Park, which opened in 2001 and has a capacity of just 38,362, the sixth-lowest in baseball. But even with a small stadium and one of the best records this year, the team has not able to fill it, averaging just 66.4% of capacity this year.

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7. Atlanta Braves
> Price of cheapest section: $9.34
> 2012 W/L record: 49-40 (8th highest)
> Stadium seating capacity: 49,586 (4th highest)
> Avg. home game attendance: 29,949 (14th highest)

The average ticket price goes for $42.41 in the secondary market this season for the Braves, but there are some options that are far cheaper. Fans in the upper pavilion section 425, near the right field foul pole, paid $9.34 per ticket this year, despite the team’s winning record both this season and last. But cheaper-than-average tickets are not necessarily leading to a full house. On average, nearly 20,000 seats have gone unfilled for each home game this season, or nearly 40% of the capacity. To put it into context, the Braves bring in about 5,000 less fans than the Milwaukee Brewers, despite the Atlanta metropolitan area having three times as many households as the Milwaukee area.

6. Cleveland Indians
> Price of cheapest section: $8.12
> 2012 W/L record: 46-44 (15th highest)
> Stadium seating capacity: 43,429 (13th highest)
> Avg. home game attendance: 19,256 (lowest)

Cleveland Indians tickets have averaged slightly more than $36 on the secondary ticket market — the fourth-cheapest tickets in baseball. In the Upper Reserved 554 section, located far behind home plate, secondary market tickets have averaged just $8.12. Stadium capacity at Progressive Field is 43,429, but average home attendance this season has been under half of that, at just 19,256 — the lowest attendance in Major League Baseball.

5. Los Angeles Angels
> Price of cheapest section: $7.96
> 2012 W/L record: 50-41 (9th highest)
> Stadium seating capacity: 45,957 (10th highest)
> Avg. home game attendance: 37,211 (9th highest)

Owners of the Angels and its crosstown rivals, the Dodgers, have 101,957 seats to fill between them 81 times a season. The Los Angeles metropolitan area, second in number of households to New York, helps in building a sizable fan base. This year, those fans may find games much more exciting this since the Angels are on track to make the playoffs. But cheap tickets also may help attendance at Angel Stadium, where more 37,000 people attend the average home game. The team has managed to fill an average of 82% of the seats in home games this season, better than all but two teams on this list. Tickets cost $36.53 on average, but if you are willing to sit up high, you can snag a seat for $7.96 in section 535.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers
> Price of cheapest section: $7.04
> 2012 W/L record: 48-44 (10th highest)
> Stadium seating capacity: 56,000 (the highest)
> Avg. home game attendance: 41,212 (6th highest)

While tickets in section 8 of Dodger Stadium’s top deck have sold for an average of $7.04 this year, upgrading out of the nosebleed section may not break the bank either. The average ticket price throughout the stadium is $33.97, lower than any other team in the majors. But the Dodgers have 56,000 seats to fill for 81 games a year, and nearly 15,000 seats a game have gone unsold during the 2012 season. Attendance as a percentage of capacity is 73.2%, lower than the Angels’ 82%, but an improvement over the 64.7% the Dodgers managed to fill last year.

3. Texas Rangers
> Price of cheapest section: $6.61
> 2012 W/L record: 55-35 (2nd highest)
> Stadium seating capacity: 48,194 (7th highest)
> Avg. home game attendance: 43,607 (2nd highest)

Even though the Rangers were American League Pennant winners in 2010 and 2011 and have the second-highest record in baseball this year, tickets in section 341 at Rangers Ballpark have sold for under $7 on average this year. But just because some seats are cheap does not mean you can snag a bargain everywhere. The average ticket costs $56.25, the sixth highest of all MLB teams. Yet that has not stopped fans from going to games. On average, 89% of seats were filled so far during home games in 2012, a higher percentage than any team on this list.

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2. Miami Marlins
> Price of cheapest section: $6.50
> 2012 W/L record: 44-46 (11th lowest)
> Stadium seating capacity: 36,742 (3rd lowest)
> Avg. home game attendance: 28,442 (13th lowest)

The Miami Marlins, formerly the Florida Marlins, are currently in their first season playing at Marlins Park. This year marks the first year that the Marlins have played in Miami after moving from Ft. Lauderdale. With a new ballpark with limited seating, one might think that tickets would be hard to come by. But tickets in section 325 of the Vista Reserved section have sold for an average of $6.50. Part of this may be due to the fact that the Miami metro region has the second-lowest median household income among all 30 teams, at $45,352.

1. Milwaukee Brewers
> Price of cheapest section: $5.38
> 2012 W/L record: 43-47 (9th lowest)
> Stadium seating capacity: 41,900 (13th lowest)
> Avg. home game attendance: 34,943 (11th highest)

The cheapest tickets in baseball are in Terrace Reserve 421, running just north of $5. Although, if you sit there, you might not know who’s on first. Gerry Abell of stadium-advisor.com points out that two huge columns in sections 420 and 421 block the view of much of the field. Yet, irrespective of the columns, going to a Brewers game is generally an affordable outing. The average ticket on the secondary market costs only $35.13, the third lowest of all major league teams. Attendance has gotten a boost from this — Milwaukee is the smallest metropolitan area with a major league baseball team, yet it has the 11th highest average attendance at home games, filling almost 35,000 seats.

Michael Sauter and Samuel Weigley

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