With the melting of the snow and the sound of birds chirping, baseball fans everywhere are finally rejoicing that spring has arrived. With only a couple weeks to go until Opening Day, baseball fans throughout the country are eagerly awaiting ticket prices and schedules to pick out single game packages. While it may not be an extravagant date for you and your significant other, it is surely a night that will set you back a pretty penny in most MLB markets.
Whether you are planning a summer trip and want to catch a game, or just want to take your family to the ballpark for some Friday night fireworks, there are very few options that compare to the atmosphere surrounding a major league stadium. Setting the atmosphere aside, most fans want to know some bottom line figures; how much will it sent them back?
According to the Team Marketing Report from 2013, the average MLB ticket price was $27.48, with a league average of $6.09 for a beer and $4.14 for a hot dog. While it may not sound like much, take a family of four and run the numbers. Buying four tickets will be $109.92, two beers and two soft drinks (avg. of $3.67) will be $19.52, and four hot dogs for the family will come out to $16.56; a grand total of $146. Throw in an extra $20 for parking and however much it costs for transportation to and from the stadium, and you’ll be looking at a family night worth about $200. Now, these numbers are averages throughout the league so prices may be lower or higher depending on your market.
Putting family numbers aside, let’s get down to what really matters; beer. When going to the game with a couple friends, most are usually not too concerned with the cost of hot dogs and soft drinks. What's truly important is the price of a beer during the game; enough to get us through the seventh-inning stretch and to quench our thirst on those hot summer nights.
If this is you, you’re in the right place. Using data compiled from the Team Marketing Report from last season, we will be taking a look at the most expensive places to buy a small draft beer throughout the league. While it shouldn’t be enough to sway you away from attending a game this season, it may help to give you an idea of exactly how much you want to bring with you to your next ballgame.
10 AT&T Park - San Francisco Giants: $6.75 Per Brewski
The first stop on our list takes us to AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants and McCovey Cove. While certainly not the most expensive place in the league, $6.75 seems a bit much for a small beer. However, given the higher standard of living in San Francisco as opposed to some other cities, the $6 and some change isn’t too much. While at AT&T Park, be sure to check out the Rock Cod tacos from Mijita, they are delicious. If you want to eat a little healthier and offset the four Miller Lite’s you just drank, stop by the Farmers Market stand for a solid selection of health dishes and options.
9 Busch Stadium - St. Louis Cardinals: $6.75 Per Brewski
Home of Anheuser-Busch Brewery, St. Louis offers many choices for the beer drinker in your group. However, be sure to stock up on beer while tailgating before the game, because at $6.75 per beverage, your wallet will surely feel lighter after the game. While it may be difficult to pinpoint how much vendors will charge for beer before the season, it appears that the Cardinals are charging about 50 cents per ounce of beer, which is top five in the league for cost. With the success the team has had in the postseason the last decade, I don’t think the price of beer is the major concern the organization or fan base.
8 Turner Field - Atlanta Braves: $7.25 Per Brewski
While some fans may scoff at the idea of a $7 beer, it doesn’t seem to bother many of the Braves’ fans on Yelp and Google when looking for reviews on the price of a cold one. It seems that the primary concern about the beer is the lack of craft beer selection available, which is becoming a rather large niche market today. With the Braves coming in at the 8th lowest ticket price in MLB at just $17.32, I suppose fans feel a little more comfortable paying a little more for their beer. In fact, the Fan Cost Index for Atlanta actually went down 4.6% last season, making it one of the most affordable places to catch a game in the country.
7 Wrigley Field - Chicago Cubs: $7.25 Per Brewski
It should be no surprise that a Chicago team wound up on our list of most expensive places for beer. With the third highest ticket price in the league at $44.55, the Cubs also happen to have expensive beer and parking. Because of the lack of parking in the city, be prepared to drop $25 when you go to the game. If not, feel free to walk, take a cab, or ride the subway. Regardless, be sure to factor in the cost of transportation to and from the game, as you will want to keep tabs on how much you’ve spent in order to keep refilling your cup. Cubs fans are also in for change in 2014 as there will be no more Heilman’s Beer being served old style at the park, as the Cubs have signed a deal with Anheuser-Busch to be their vendor of choice.
6 Fenway Park - Boston Red Sox: $7.25 Per Brewski
Tied for sixth place for the most expensive beer, I am actually kind of surprised to find out a small beer at Fenway is only $7.25. I know hearing $7.25 for a small beer is like nails on a chalk board, but considering the city is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States, I was expecting worse. Throw in the fact that Boston has the highest ticket prices ($53.38) and the highest parking prices ($27) in the country; it’s a shock that the $7.25 per beer isn’t more.
5 Rogers Centre - Toronto Blue Jays: $7.34 Per Brewski
As the only Canadian team in the MLB, it shouldn’t surprise anybody that it costs $7.34 USD for a small beer at the Rogers Centre. Toronto is a world-class city, consistently ranked in the top 10 cities in the world, thus coming with a very high standard of living. While the average price of a ticket is just $25.38, the Blue Jays are usually ranked in the bottom third of attendance each season. Due to the lack of attendance, the organization figured they have to make up the money somewhere, and Canadians usually can’t turn down beer.
4 Target Field - Minnesota Twins: $7.50 Per Brewski
As many fans could guess, ticket prices and the cost of concessions always go up when new stadiums are built. For the Minnesota Twins, the organization needed to find a way to capitalize on the amount of fans in their new ballpark, because most were not there to watch their team make the playoffs. Despite the Twins’ woes over the past decade, the fans have been loyal, and Target Field is a beautiful place to watch a game. The Twins’ $7.50 for a small beer ranks them as the fourth most expensive ballpark in the MLB, even though the average for parking is just $6, the lowest in the league.
3 Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia Phillies: $7.75 Per Brewski
Despite the fact that Citizens Bank Park is the fourth most expensive ballpark to visit and the third most expensive for beer, the numbers may be a little skewed. The ballpark offers plenty of craft beer for those looking for something different, including brews by Victory and Flying Fish Breweries. Citizens Bank Park’s prices for hot dogs, programs, and apparel are generally around the MLB price averages. If you feel like ever catching a game during the week, I would highly recommend seeing the Phillies play.
2 Marlins Park - Miami Marlins: $8.00 Per Brewski
Very similar to the Minnesota Twins, the Miami Marlins had to find a way to pay for their brand new stadium. With the Marlins being one of the lowest drawing crowds in the country, the organization had to resort to selling expensive beer and hot dogs. Unless it’s the Heat, Miami fans are some of the latest arriving and earliest leaving sports fans in the country, a trend that doesn’t bode well for any team. Despite the Marlins charging $8.00 for a small beer, they do have a solid group of young and talented pitchers, as well as Giancarlo Stanton, who may be able to help turn the struggling ball club around.
1 Nationals Park - Washington Nationals: $8.25 Per Brewski
The final and most expensive team on our list comes out of the nation’s capital, Washington DC. Similar to the other two National League teams on our list, the Nationals charge an insane $8.25 for a small beer. For a team that hasn’t done much in the postseason as of late, I think that is highway robbery. Despite this, the Nationals do offer a $5 beer if you get to the park before the first pitch, which is pretty unique. If you are looking for some comparison numbers to other parks that were recently built, Nationals Park only charged $6.50 for a domestic beer when the stadium was first opened and only $7.50 for premium beer, quite a difference from the $9 premium beers at the park today.