Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dodgers Rank First On Forbes' "Most Vulnerable Ticket Prices" List

Frank McCourt, master of the ticket (and parking!) price increase: heed this warning! The Dodgers are the most vulnerable professional sports franchise, relative to its recent ticket price increases and the city's economic projections on unemployment and income levels:

It’s generally been true that sports’ biggest appeal is the escape it provides people from the real world, which many are willing to pay for. That’s made the industry better equipped than most to weather any downturn.

But there are limits. It’s clear that some pro teams are anticipating a tough year ahead, the solution for which may be cutting back ticket prices or losing sales. But some markets are in worse shape than others. Which teams around the country are most vulnerable to a fan base with income that isn’t keeping pace with the recent run-ups in ticket prices?

A look at the numbers would suggest that baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees and Mets are good candidates. So are the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers.

Why these teams? All are at or near the top of their respective leagues in ticket-price increases over the past three years. Combine that with each city’s 2009 economic prognosis for unemployment and income, and it’s tough to see current ticket prices being sustained much longer. The Dodgers, for example, have jacked up the average cost of a game 44 percent since 2005, to $229 for a family of four, according to Team Marketing Report’s Fan Cost Index. Meanwhile, Moody’s Economy.com projects unemployment in the L.A. metro area will increase by two percentage points by the end of next year, to about 10 percent.

Make sure you go to the bottom and click on the link for the slideshow. Is that Dodger fan (with a handful of tickets in hand) smiling, or weeping?