The 9 Biggest Rip-Offs for Sports Fans
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The 9 Biggest Rip-Offs for Sports Fans

by: Penn Collins On  Friday, April 3, 2015

biggest rip-offs for sports fans 2

Word came down from high atop the mountain (the Internet) yesterday that the price tag for the Manny Pacquiao Floyd Mayweather fight would be a record-setting $99, and if for some bizarre reason you didn’t want an HD broadcast, congrats. Your price is only $89. Whee! Ten dollar savings!

It’s no surprise that the price of the fight is so high, given the public’s anticipation, but where does this rank among the biggest rip-offs for sports fans? We went through a roster of them (there’s no shortage), and this pricing wouldn’t even make the list, if only because it’s a one-time hit, and many of the entries here are repeated hits to sports fans’ wallets, making them the biggest rip-offs.

Take a look as we navigate the crasser, greedier side of sports. The side that’s engineered to take your ticket money, then your beer money, and your parking money, then have the nerve to charge you for a seat license before we even get to those.

biggest rip-offs for sports fans 2

Word came down from high atop the mountain (the Internet) yesterday that the price tag for the Manny Pacquiao Floyd Mayweather fight would be a record-setting $99, and if for some bizarre reason you didn’t want an HD broadcast, congrats. Your price is only $89. Whee! Ten dollar savings!

It’s no surprise that the price of the fight is so high, given the public’s anticipation, but where does this rank among the biggest rip-offs for sports fans? We went through a roster of them (there’s no shortage), and this pricing wouldn’t even make the list, if only because it’s a one-time hit, and many of the entries here are repeated hits to sports fans’ wallets, making them the biggest rip-offs.

Take a look as we navigate the crasser, greedier side of sports. The side that’s engineered to take your ticket money, then your beer money, and your parking money, then have the nerve to charge you for a seat license before we even get to those.

9. Parking

The worst rub of parking is, it’s only a big issue at the places with the most parking. Most downtowns in big cities offer lots of public (and private) transport to get to the urban venues. It’s the owners that take their teams out to the sticks that get ya. Where land is practically free, you’re forced to pay almost always upwards of $20 to park. Must be nice raking in another $10 per ticketholder on game days.

9. Parking

9. Parking

The worst rub of parking is, it’s only a big issue at the places with the most parking. Most downtowns in big cities offer lots of public (and private) transport to get to the urban venues. It’s the owners that take their teams out to the sticks that get ya. Where land is practically free, you’re forced to pay almost always upwards of $20 to park. Must be nice raking in another $10 per ticketholder on game days.

8. Beer Rip-Off

I’m not going to go all Andy Rooney and contend that beer should be a nickel. I know that a lot of money comes from concessions, and stadium operations are actually pretty damn expensive to run. I also understand that if you don’t raise prices, the guy that spent $300 on his playoff tickets will treat $6 beers like a rounding error and drink like John Bonham until he gets behind the wheel, passes out, or starts a fight. But there’s no excuse for watering down beer, offering lower-alcohol beer (this one’s debatable, but notify the customer), or misrepresenting the size of the beers. I don’t need to go further, do I? This is just common sense and common decency.

8. Crappy Beer Practices at Events

8. Beer Rip-Off

I’m not going to go all Andy Rooney and contend that beer should be a nickel. I know that a lot of money comes from concessions, and stadium operations are actually pretty damn expensive to run. I also understand that if you don’t raise prices, the guy that spent $300 on his playoff tickets will treat $6 beers like a rounding error and drink like John Bonham until he gets behind the wheel, passes out, or starts a fight. But there’s no excuse for watering down beer, offering lower-alcohol beer (this one’s debatable, but notify the customer), or misrepresenting the size of the beers. I don’t need to go further, do I? This is just common sense and common decency.

7. Preseason

What a racket. No one should have to submit themselves to preseason sports under any circumstances, let alone be forced to buy tickets to a slug of preseason games at far above market price. Here’s a novel idea: If you can’t people to voluntarily pay for a product (preseason games), then maybe consider dropping the price of the product or increasing the quality. Since the latter is a pipe-dream, maybe just kill preseason games or drastically reduced the number of games we’re subjected to.

7. Preseason Games with Season Tickets

7. Preseason

What a racket. No one should have to submit themselves to preseason sports under any circumstances, let alone be forced to buy tickets to a slug of preseason games at far above market price. Here’s a novel idea: If you can’t people to voluntarily pay for a product (preseason games), then maybe consider dropping the price of the product or increasing the quality. Since the latter is a pipe-dream, maybe just kill preseason games or drastically reduced the number of games we’re subjected to.

6. Seat Licenses

Ugh. These are tantamount to a fan tax. You know what works just fine as a seat license? A ticket. They’re like little seat licenses for every game. No need to be redundant by charging fans tens of thousands of dollars to get dibs on seats that they’re buying tickets for anyway. Maybe they should also be assessed a fee for looking at the field, or sitting in their seats. I’m sure that Dan Snyder is already working on some sort of special field that’s only visible with $50,000 glasses.

6. Seat Licenses

6. Seat Licenses

Ugh. These are tantamount to a fan tax. You know what works just fine as a seat license? A ticket. They’re like little seat licenses for every game. No need to be redundant by charging fans tens of thousands of dollars to get dibs on seats that they’re buying tickets for anyway. Maybe they should also be assessed a fee for looking at the field, or sitting in their seats. I’m sure that Dan Snyder is already working on some sort of special field that’s only visible with $50,000 glasses.

5. Standing Room Only

I can’t speak to the sports world at large, though I understand the rationale for standing room only tickets at say, a golf tournament, but if you can’t put a person in a seat inside your football stadium, JERRY JONES, then maybe don’t sell them a ticket. Sure, they’ll pay for them, because fans are loyal and devoted to the point of being irrational, but that doesn’t make an owner any less of a slumlord for packing fans in with no sight lines. If anything, it can turn dangerous when these fired up goofballs are left with no game to watch and access to lots and lots and lots of alcohol.

5. Standing Room Only Seats

5. Standing Room Only

I can’t speak to the sports world at large, though I understand the rationale for standing room only tickets at say, a golf tournament, but if you can’t put a person in a seat inside your football stadium, JERRY JONES, then maybe don’t sell them a ticket. Sure, they’ll pay for them, because fans are loyal and devoted to the point of being irrational, but that doesn’t make an owner any less of a slumlord for packing fans in with no sight lines. If anything, it can turn dangerous when these fired up goofballs are left with no game to watch and access to lots and lots and lots of alcohol.

4. Sports Packages

This might not be universal (Sunday Ticket seems to be pretty strong so long as you are willing to buy into DirecTV), but the NBA League pass is a nightmare for cord-cutters. This will be a rant, so stay tuned. You don’t get local games, which means, as an LA resident who really doesn’t care about the Lakers or Clippers, I’m prohibited from watching any game those two teams play in. Also, I get no nationally televised games (aka “the best games”), and no playoff games. So if I want to watch my Mavs, I better hope that the game I paid for isn’t on TNT, ABC, ESPN, or even NBA TV. And they can’t be playing either of TWO teams (Lakers and Clippers) in their conference. That leaves…not a lot of games I paid almost $200 for.

4. TV Sports Packages

4. Sports Packages

This might not be universal (Sunday Ticket seems to be pretty strong so long as you are willing to buy into DirecTV), but the NBA League pass is a nightmare for cord-cutters. This will be a rant, so stay tuned. You don’t get local games, which means, as an LA resident who really doesn’t care about the Lakers or Clippers, I’m prohibited from watching any game those two teams play in. Also, I get no nationally televised games (aka “the best games”), and no playoff games. So if I want to watch my Mavs, I better hope that the game I paid for isn’t on TNT, ABC, ESPN, or even NBA TV. And they can’t be playing either of TWO teams (Lakers and Clippers) in their conference. That leaves…not a lot of games I paid almost $200 for.

 

biggest ripoffs for sports fans

I can’t really blame the owners for trying to get public assistance here, but I’m VERY comfortable blaming politicians, lobbyists, and citizens who think that a good use of public tax money is to help take a sports from “very profitable” to “insanely profitable.” I won’t deny that a sports team can be a cultural touchpoint for a city, but it doesn’t need a $1 billion stadium to serve that purpose. It’s not a museum, it’s not a school, and it’s not new roads. It’s a luxury that should be borne by the rich owners.

3. Publicly-Funded Stadiums

 

biggest ripoffs for sports fans

I can’t really blame the owners for trying to get public assistance here, but I’m VERY comfortable blaming politicians, lobbyists, and citizens who think that a good use of public tax money is to help take a sports from “very profitable” to “insanely profitable.” I won’t deny that a sports team can be a cultural touchpoint for a city, but it doesn’t need a $1 billion stadium to serve that purpose. It’s not a museum, it’s not a school, and it’s not new roads. It’s a luxury that should be borne by the rich owners.

2. Jerseys

You know how when baseball cards went through their “ultra-premium” phase in the early 90’s? Fans realized that having a billion limited editions of cards wasn’t any more valuable than the regular ole’ sets of cards? Well, the same is true of jerseys these days. Constantly updated and tweaked to incentivize new purchases, the ultimate result will likely be fewer overall purchases eventually because nobody is going to look at a gold sleeved jersey that says King James on the back as a cherished item ten years later. If a fan can’t feel good about buying a jersey, either for durability of the design or some other gimmick, then there’s very little value for the fans. And that’s a rip off.

2. The Revolving Door of Jerseys

2. Jerseys

You know how when baseball cards went through their “ultra-premium” phase in the early 90’s? Fans realized that having a billion limited editions of cards wasn’t any more valuable than the regular ole’ sets of cards? Well, the same is true of jerseys these days. Constantly updated and tweaked to incentivize new purchases, the ultimate result will likely be fewer overall purchases eventually because nobody is going to look at a gold sleeved jersey that says King James on the back as a cherished item ten years later. If a fan can’t feel good about buying a jersey, either for durability of the design or some other gimmick, then there’s very little value for the fans. And that’s a rip off.

1. Tailgating

It’s a little odd to say that prohibiting fans from doing something prior to a game is a rip off, but think about the dynamic. The stadium sells beer and a sporting experience to fans. They also sell parking spots (see the first point) to the fans at exorbitant prices. But can the fans enjoy beer and camaraderie in the parking lot? Of course not. That’s “dangerous.” Dangerous to the bottom line of the football and baseball teams in question. God forbid they don’t capture cash for every drop of alcohol or food sold in conjunction with their events. They steal every last drop of spontaneity and agency from fans that aren’t under the complete control of the venues micro-economy. And THAT’S a rip-off.

1. Banning Tailgating

1. Tailgating

It’s a little odd to say that prohibiting fans from doing something prior to a game is a rip off, but think about the dynamic. The stadium sells beer and a sporting experience to fans. They also sell parking spots (see the first point) to the fans at exorbitant prices. But can the fans enjoy beer and camaraderie in the parking lot? Of course not. That’s “dangerous.” Dangerous to the bottom line of the football and baseball teams in question. God forbid they don’t capture cash for every drop of alcohol or food sold in conjunction with their events. They steal every last drop of spontaneity and agency from fans that aren’t under the complete control of the venues micro-economy. And THAT’S a rip-off.



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