Boston Red Sox president Sam Kennedy was on the Toucher & Rich show yesterday and was asked why the cost of beer at Fenway Park is much higher than any other stadium in Major League Baseball. Last year, anyway, it cost $7.75 for a 12oz beer, which was by far the most expensive entry-level price for beer in baseball on a per ounce basis.
Gotta give credit to Kennedy here for not going into businessman cliches about how “well, we think consumers are getting value . . .” or “well, actually-ing” the whole thing up in a way that would make us think that he thinks we’re fools. Nope, he was pretty straight forward. People like beer, you see, the Red Sox are in the business of making money, and as long as the demand holds for beer at the price point they’re charging, the price point is working pretty well for the club.
Indeed, why would they lower beer prices?
“It’s probably not something we’ll do. We’ll probably continue to take slow increases on products that are wildly popular like beer. We don’t seem to have too much pushback on the beer prices.”
Kennedy laughed when he said that, as I probably would too. Because explaining to someone that, you know, sports fans like beer, is kind of funny when you think about it. It’s like explaining that water is wet and pie is tasty.
He did go on to talk about the good things coming from concession revenue, of course, and that did skew a bit businessy, but it was likewise pretty straight forward:
“We tried to balance the need to generate as much revenue as possible at Fenway to invest in really two areas, and that’s the product on the field—as you know, we’ve had one of the highest payrolls in all of baseball in our time here—number one. And number two, we’ve invested revenues to the tune of $300 million-plus into the preservation and protection of Fenway”
It’s a small ballpark which, high seat prices notwithstanding, still has some revenue challenges compared to other newer, larger parks. We should not be so naive to think that, if the Red Sox had built some 50,000 seat mallpark in the late 90s, they wouldn’t still have high beer and ticket prices, but his points do stand.
It’s Red Sox baseball. People love it. People likewise love beer. And the Red Sox are a business, not a public trust.