Wanna go to a Mets game? It’s pretty darn affordable these days, reports the New York Times. Seats directly behind home plate with a face value of $134 are going for $69. Seats in boxes between third base and home plate are going for $28, when they normally retail for $80 to $134. If merely getting into the park is what you’re after, $3 gets the job done.
People may be inclined to mock this as a function of a bad team suffering bad times, but I see a silver lining. There are families who have been priced out of baseball in the past several years. And those that haven’t been totally priced out have at least been priced back into worse seats or way up high into the nose-bleeds. These cheap seats, however, may be result is some people going to the ballpark who may not have otherwise gone, sitting where they might not have otherwise sat, if only on a couple of occasions.
I didn’t go to a ton of baseball games when I was a kid, but I was lucky enough to go to a handful in some pretty darn good seats. I think being close to the action like that played a big role in my becoming a baseball fan. Ask people who suffered through lean times in Cleveland and places like that and they’ll tell you the same thing.
While it may hurt the Mets’ bottom line in the short term, a plethora of good cheap seats may very well help create some fans who may not have otherwise been created.
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”