All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sports and the Financial Crisis

USA Today had an article today about how the souring economy is affecting sports:

Sports also paying a price amid struggling economy

Count Kent Haines out when it comes to buying Boston Red Sox or New England Patriots tickets for the foreseeable future.

Those clubs have the highest average ticket prices in Major League Baseball and the National Football League. And because of the economic crisis, the Haines family of North Kingstown, R.I., is cutting spending.

"In this sky-is-falling economy, attending a pro sporting event is last on my list," says Haines, recalling that in May he dropped $250 for tickets, parking, food and a souvenir for himself and his 10-year-old son, Zach, at Fenway Park. "When you combine the cost of the tickets with the effort it takes to get our fannies in the seats, watching on TV with my wife and kids sounds pretty good right now."

Haines' story is echoed by a rising number of fans across the USA, a reflection of how the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression is stretching and even severing the bond between fans and sports teams.

The article discusses some of the things teams are doing to cut expenses, and also touches on the resentment of fans who feel they've been priced out.

The anger of "real sports fans" was building before the economy turned sour, says Brian Blight, a Detroit Lions fan from Peoria, Ill. He says that for fans increasingly weary of rising ticket prices, $7 beers and $20 parking fees, the downturn has a silver lining.

"Sports has it coming," Blight says. "It's just been greed, greed, greed."

There's also an interesting sidebar with the "Fan Cost Index" of attending games in the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA. The MLB "Fan Cost Index" - the average cost for a family of four to attend a game - is $191.92, up 7.9% over last year.

The Wall St. Journal has also been covering the issue of sports and the credit crisis:

As Economy Weakens, Sports Feel a Chill

Among the likely casualties: the Florida Marlins' new stadium.

Some stadiums themselves are in jeopardy, opposed by taxpayers and public officials who don't think investments in sports facilities are justified in the current climate. In Florida, construction of a new ballpark for Major League Baseball's Marlins that was supposed to start this fall probably will have to wait for better economic times.

Katy Sorensen, one of the commissioners of Florida's Miami-Dade County, said she expects support for the $515 million Marlins ballpark to dissipate. Florida's real-estate market is one of the hotspots in a foreclosure crisis that helped to bring down several major banks and spark a selling frenzy in global markets.

Financing for the proposed stadium relies partly on bonds financed with hotel and tourism taxes. Ms. Sorensen said in the current economy it isn't clear whether the county would have enough money to cover the debt.

Then there's this article:

Wall St. forces NASCAR to wave yellow flag

Some of the most illustrious names in the sport, including Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip, have suddenly lost a slew of big-time sponsors as struggling auto makers, flailing financial firms and retrenching oil companies decide they have better things to do with their shrinking capital than spend up to $25-million (U.S.) annually to sponsor a team.

NASCAR races are supposed to have 43 cars. But fields are certain to be smaller next year.

"There's maybe 26 teams that have sponsorship for next year, and five or six that have partial," Mr. Waltrip told Bloomberg News.

It is the latest example of the heavy toll taken by the credit crisis and widening global slowdown on the one area that used to be all but immune to hard times: spectator sports.

After reading articles like that, I started wondering how baseball survived the Great Depression...and found this page.

Baseball suffered, as many could not afford to pay even the $0.50 admission into the games. For the few that could manage a ticket the admission was all they could pay for and if they did have a nickel for a ballpark hot dog it would be their only meal of the day. The owners of baseball clubs watched as ticket sales dropped tremendously.

In an effort to gather crowds Major League baseball offered a variety of unheard of promotions hoping to get the attention of the public. Teams started playing night games, holding beauty contests, giving away groceries, and having mortgage nights. These stunts brought in a few thousand to watch the games and kept a few franchises open.

Not sure what a mortgage night was. A night where the giveaway was paying off someone's mortgage?

The article also says that the Hall of Fame and the All-Star game were invented during the Depression, as ways to keep fan interest. And that many men and boys journeyed to Florida in hopes of getting a job playing baseball, as it was one of the few sources of steady employment in those days.

As for me, I will probably go to just as many games as usual. Spring training and minor league games aren't that expensive. Especially if you're cheap, like me, and don't buy any beer or food at the stadium.

And just this post is not all doom and favorite credit crunch jokes:

This is worse than a divorce. I lost half my assets but I still have my wife.

I went to an ATM today, and it asked to borrow a twenty till next week.

The credit crunch has helped me get back on my feet. The car's been repossessed.

I went to Best Buy to get a toaster and they gave me a free bank with purchase.

Q: What's the capital of Iceland?
A: About 70 cents.

Q: What the difference between today's investment bankers and pigeons?
A: Pigeons can still make a deposit on a BMW.


posted by BubbaFan, 11:17 PM


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