Ah, remember the "family farm," which politicians regularly praise the virtues of when they're taking billions from us to give to corporate agriculture? Add another to the list of myths and illusions we're paying to maintain: the one about the "family of four" that takes a day off to enjoy a leisurely day at the ballpark. From 1991 to 2006, the NFL's average ticket price jumped 147 percent. It was up 110 percent in the NBA and a whopping 151 percent for major league baseball. In the same time span, the average median household income in Indiana grew 68 percent.
So a lot of families in Indiana are giving up their season tickets for the Colts and the Pacers and even skipping the occasional game. Said a Zionsville couple who gave up seats they've had for the Pacers for 15 years, "We're spending $425 to just get in the door, and nobody has had a snack or dinner and nobody has parked a car."
And this isn't some accidental evolution:
Instead of the "family of four," long the Americana image of game-going fans, experts say teams and leagues are now targeting the single corporate fan, usually male but sometimes female, late 20s or early 30s, with disposable income and more generous spending limits. Also, corporations increasingly are buying up large blocks of tickets with which to entertain clients, often leading to empty seats in prime locations (and undoubtedly irking the families who can barely afford the "cheap seats" up near the rafters).
"It's about catering to a different market," said Raymond Sauer, Clemson University economics professor and creator of the online blog The Sports Economist. "They're pricing that (family) segment of the market out more and replacing it with big money people."
What's galling is that the government makes ordinary people pay for this nonsense through taxes that help build lavish new stadiums, and then have the nerve to brag about how much good the politicians are doing for economic development and what a good deal such things are for the quality of life here.