Government subsidies to corporate fat cats raise your ticket prices

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Plutocrat.jpgYeah, the headline was a bit much, but I like saying “fat cats” whenever I can. This is a story about why tickets to ballgames cost so much:

There are many reasons for the price explosion, but a critical factor
has been the ability of businesses to write off tickets as
entertainment expenses — essentially a huge, and wholly unnecessary,
government subsidy.

These deductions have led to higher ticket
prices in two ways. On the demand side, they have fueled competition for
scarce seats, with business taxpayers bidding in part with dollars they
save through the deductions. On the supply side, the large
number of businesses bidding for expensive seats has driven the
expansion of luxury skyboxes and a reduction in overall seats in new
ballparks.

Of course any politician who tried to repeal tax breaks for luxury boxes would be attacked for trying to “raise” taxes on business. Meanwhile, anyone who wants to use tax dollars to provide basic medical care to poor people is a godless socialist who hates America and everything for which it stands.

I sat in a luxury box for a baseball game once. It was interesting in both good and bad ways. I don’t begrudge their existence. But I never once felt like it was something the government should be subsidizing.

Cincinnati Reds fire Bryan Price

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The Cincinnati Reds have fired manager Bryan Price. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jim Riggleman. The team also fired pitching coach Mack Jenkins. The club also added Louisville manager Pat Kelly to the staff as the new bench coach and Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin as the new big league pitching coach.

It was only a matter of time for Price, whose Reds have begun the season 3-15. This was Price’s fifth season at the helm and the Reds never won more than 76 games in any of his previous seasons, doing so in his first year, in 2014. They won 68 games in both 2016 and 2017 and 64 games in 2015. While that’s far more attributable to the Reds talent level than anything Price ever did or did not do, at some point the manager will take the fall for a team that makes no progress.

Price’s tenure will likely be considered largely forgettable in the view of history, but he did have a pretty memorable moment as Reds manager in April of 2015, when he went on a profanity-laced tirade at the media because they reported the availability or lack thereof of certain players for an upcoming game. Which is part of the media’s job, even if Price didn’t fully grok that at the time. The tirade itself was pretty epic, though, with then Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans reporting that “there were 77 uses of the “F” word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine).” 

Taking over will be Jim Riggleman, who last managed in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals, resigning in June of 2011 because he was unhappy that he did not get a contract extension. It was a weird episode, the sort of which a lot of guys couldn’t have come back from, perhaps being considered quitters. Riggleman took a job managing the Reds’ Double-A team, however, then moved on to Triple-A and then the Reds’ big league coaching staff. There’s something to be said for persistence. And for being a big league lifer.

Anyway, Price’s exit is not likely to change the Reds’ course too much in 2018. But, as it is so often said in baseball, sometimes you gotta make a change all the same.