Boston Red Sox: Fenway Park income inequity tickets

Jul 27, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; A general view of Fenway Park during the fifth inning of the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 27, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; A general view of Fenway Park during the fifth inning of the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports /

Income inequity is now firmly entrenched in our political and economic debates and the Boston Red Sox ticket prices are certainly an example.

The Red Sox continue to tinker with Fenway Park in the ongoing strategy to fill in as many spaces as possible with new seating. This latest attempt will add another 104 seats and will also allow the bullpen walls to me moveable so that the park can accommodate soccer – how sacrilegious is that?

The Red Sox have been down the expansion road on a consistent pattern that started in 2004. Then came 2005 and 2007. A smaller expansion in 2014 and now the latest. Those who saw the movie “Fever Pitch” remember the scene with Lenny Clark attempts to squeeze into a Fenway seat. The seats would be a tight fit for a Kenyan marathoner.

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This is just a continuation of a policy that has been active since Henry et al have taken control of the Red Sox. The idea is to simply maximize income of which a good portion is reinvested in the team. The cash flow generated by the Red Sox has also spurred real estate investment by the team and the acquisition of other sports trinkets.

The Red Sox also have received a healthy subsidy from tax credits. That money comes from somewhere and that somewhere is from all of us. This is not unusual, for businesses certainly will take advantage of any tax incentives offered – Jane and John Public do the same on our tax filings. Even if you hate sports in general you will stay pay somewhere within the process either with tax subsidies or via advertising costs embedded in product prices.

For Red Sox fans the important issue is on the field and not the accounting department. Collectively, we may grouse about the contracts, but if the player produces then acceptance is there – the flag is the goal. The willingness to part with money for questionable seats is obvious and a splendid market exists, but there is a dark side. Who gets shut out and not is a game sense.

Boston ticket prices are outrageous and are the highest in MLB at an average of $48. Toss in the peripherals such as hot dogs and an adult beverage and money disappears as quickly as at a Roulette wheel at Foxwoods. Go with caution where a ticket that says grandstand as a pole will be part of your view. If a ticket has obstructed view stay away.

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The Red Sox have locked out a substantial number of their fan base since a game is now far too pricey for the long used family of four model. The Red Sox run an advertisement where folks receive a Christmas gift of tickets where various levels of pathos take place. Did their marketing department even notice the irony?

The screaming that takes place and the tears shed may be dramatic for showing how appreciative a loyal fan(s) can be, but the sudden surge in the credit card statement or the extra cash needed in the monthly equity may have some tears shed for the giver. More and more are on the outside looking in.

I am both frustrated and angry.

There is blame enough to go around and it should not necessarily be isolated to the Red Sox. The base salary for a player is exorbitant and the benefits would make even a member of Congress envious. Ownership does its best to maximize profits and that is certainly capitalism at its finest, but eventually the masses will sour. There becomes a critical mass situation where far too many fans simply cannot indulge – an issue that I see now.

A day at the ballpark can be as expensive as a day at Disney World or some other theme park, but at least you have ten to twelve hours to spend. That time figure is only attainable if it is one of the notorious time-consuming Yankee-Red Sox games.

Fortunately practical and entertaining baseball options that exist in New England and the Boston area that are more favorable to watching your dollars. Minor league baseball is operating and healthy with the Red Sox having teams in Pawtucket, Portland and Lowell. Independent league baseball is dotted throughout New England and so are the fast paced summer leagues. The wooden bat Cape Cod League is a must for any fan.

Minor league baseball continues to post increasing attendance numbers and some may be the pricing structure of MLB locking out fans.  Minor leagues have had a revival thanks to new parks and increased public support.  A good seat is cheap.

Next: First wave of September call-ups

Baseball in Boston is now a delicious and expensive discretionary treat for far too many. Gone are the days when a kid could get a quarter and go to the game. Now he needs his parents ATM card.