Do you have plans to get away from the cold and snow and feel the sand between your toes, the sun on your back and hopefully catch some Twins spring training baseball in Florida? What better way to forget your problems and get away from it all. For the first time in many years I will not be attending spring training in Ft. Myers but that is a whole different story. Well, if you are going, you might want to raise your credit card limit and keep a tight grip on your wallet or purse because MLB and the Twins are looking to help themselves to your money.
The Detroit Tigers apparently have found a new way to gouge a few additional dollars from their fans. The Tigers normally open the gates to Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida 2 hours prior to home games but by that time the Tigers have already completed their batting practice. Baseball fans enjoy watching the home team take batting practice so the Tigers have decided to allow fans to get in early for home batting practice but the fans will be limited to the left-field berm and will need to scratch up an extra $5 for the privilege. Tigers management take on it is that the fans requested it since they could not watch batting practice and now they will be able to do so, if they come up with the bucks. Way to push it on the fans Detroit Tigers management, if the Tigers were really just doing a good deed they would not charge for the privilege or if they did, any money they collect should go to charity or to the old-time baseball players with little or no pensions that baseball has neglected so badly. But it is not just the Tigers, other teams are also looking to take more money from the wallets of their fans. It seems to me that a fan should not be punished if he/she decides to go to a baseball on short notice but that is not the case if you want to take in an Atlanta Braves game in Lake Buena Vista as their web site states that “A $5 Walk-Up fee will apply to Day-Of-Game purchases”, what idiot came up with that idea? Punish walk-up ticket sales? Calvin Griffith is rolling over in his grave this very moment. Other teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates (who have not played .500 ball for 20 years) for example have come up with this plan “Prior to the individual ticket on-sale, fans will have the opportunity to take part in an “Early Bird” online only pre-sale from January 23-25. “Early Bird” pricing is different than regular single game pricing and is an alternative purchase opportunity for fans who want to be guaranteed seats to high-demand games.” This means that for 3 days the Pirates allow you to pay more for a spring training ticket that you normally would. Where the heck do these idiots come up with these ideas and why is the general public falling for these shenanigans?
I see this as just another way that baseball is looking at additional fees to take in more money from their fans. I sure hope this is not something that spreads like wildfire through out baseball as spring training is one of the few places where fans get a chance to get close to their team and now it just seems like baseball is going to make them pay. Fans that attend spring training are the true fan base of any team, they spend their hard earned money to travel to a destination to observe their favorite teams and they should be rewarded by their teams and not punished with extra fees.
The Minnesota Twins have made it tougher to get close to some of the fields in spring training themselves and that is a trend that I see getting worse over the years. Probably won’t be long before they start charging fans for watching the minor leaguers play their games on the back fields. Baseball should be looking for ways to encourage fans to go to spring training by making it affordable but that apparently is not the case.
Look at the Twins spring training ticket prices for example, this is year 2 of “Value” and “Premium” pricing and the tickets range from $13 for a “value” lawn ticket to $43 for a “premium” Dugout Box seat. Last year 3 of the 16 (18.8%) home games were designated as “premium”, this year 6 of the 18 (33.3%) of the home games are classified as “premium” games. 2013 is the first time in a number of years that the Twins have not raised their spring training ticket prices at Hammond Stadium from the previous season but they doubled the number of their “premium” games so yes, they will make more money off ticket sales. YES, $43. How in the world can the Twins who are coming off of back-to-back 90+ loss seasons, dropping payroll, charge $43 to watch a team that will not even have big leaguers playing most of the time? The Twins average spring trainng attendance in 2012 was 7,344 which was a drop of a little over 9% from 8,091 in 2011.
If you are going to have variable pricing why not come up with a plan that is more fair to the fans, charge less for these early spring training exhibition games than you do for games played later in March because for most of March it is mostly minor league players playing most of the game with major league players making cameo appearances. Let’s take a look at the Twins spring training ticket prices since 2008.