Is MLB Killing Its Future Fan Base?

Many Major League Baseball fans can trace their allegiance to fond memories from their childhood — visiting a big league stadium and falling in love with the drama on the field. It was those early trips to the ballpark that instilled fanaticism on impressionable young children — and created passionate, lifelong baseball fans.

But what happens if those impressionable souls are not exposed to Major League Baseball at an early age? Where will MLB’s fans of tomorrow come from?

There is a poignant op-ed piece by Bob Herbert at The New York Times that suggests the new ballparks are “Pricing the Kids Out“. (Hat tip to my wife.) Among the more intriguing bits:

You need a mortgage now to get season tickets. Someone recently told me that at the prices the Yankees were originally charging for the best seats in the house, it would have cost around $800,000 for season tickets for a family of four. A lot of those seats stayed empty earlier in the season, so prices were dropped enough so that you only had to be rich to afford them, not superrich.

New York’s other baseball team, the Mets, were pathetic this year, so they’ve gone into hiding. But the Mets have a brand new stadium, too — Citi Field, named for the bank. I can’t think of anything more appropriate.

Baseball was called the national pastime not only because it’s a great sport but because it was a sport that was affordable for nearly all American families. You didn’t have to be Bernie Madoff to get good seats at the Stadium or the Polo Grounds or Ebbets Field, or any of the other classic old parks that have since faded — or are fading — into the ether.

That’s only a portion of a must-read article. Herbert concludes with:

Maybe this is not the biggest issue facing the country, but I can’t help feeling we’re making a big mistake pricing these games out of the reach of today’s boys and girls who are growing up in families of modest means.

If it’s true that less kids are going to ballgames because they can’t afford to, one must wonder how that will affect the future of the sport. Is MLB cashing in on short-term revenues that will eventually stunt long-term growth?

Check out the article yourself and come back here with your thoughts.

Shea What?

About the Author

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.

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