Even The Yankees Hit By Economy

Bobby Curran
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Friday - April 29, 2009
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It was inevitable that the current state of the economy would eventually impact the sports industry. Not even America’s wealthiest metropolis is exempt. The New York Yankees’ brand new stadium has plenty of empty seats, and it’s not the cheap seats up high by the foul poles. It’s the seats behind and to the side of home plate, the so-called Legends seating. Maybe it’s the pricing. After all, at $2,675 per ticket a family of four has to make a choice: a day at the ballpark or mortgage payments for the next three or four months. Even Yankee operating partner Hal Steinbrenner finally seemed to get it.

“I think if anybody in any business had known where this economy was going to go, they would have done things differently,” said Steinbrenner. “Look, there’s no doubt small amounts of our tickets might be over-priced.”

The Mets have similar issues at their new Citifield digs, where the top ticket is a little over $800. But forget that high-end Big Apple insanity. At PNC Park in Pittsburgh, a great ticket at field level can be had for $32 to watch a Pirates team that is playing really well. And those seats are mostly empty.

The small-market team in cities where football is king are going to struggle mightily. That means trouble for Colorado, Cleveland, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Florida. If contraction is any kind of real possibility, this year could force the issue.

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College football in some parts of the country is said to be recession-proof. It probably isn’t going to be any easier to get a ticket to an Alabama home game than it’s ever been, but in places where football does-n’t rise to the level of religion it could mean tougher sledding. Will the fan base stay steady at places like Vanderbilt, Iowa State or Washington? There has never been true parity in college football, but it won’t be good for the game to have widening inequities between the top and bottom teams within conferences.


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This is the time to start thinking about making a road trip to follow the Warrior football team. There are travel packages that will cover either or both of Hawaii’s consecutive away games against Washington State in Seattle and UNLV in Sin City. A quick analysis indicates that both games are winnable, and fans will love visiting Seattle and Qwest Field. And what better excuse to spend the larger part of a week in Las Vegas?


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The University of Hawaii baseball team may become the answer to a trivia question: Who was the last WAC team to host the conference tournament on its own field? Indications are that future conference tournaments will be conducted at neutral sites. As recently as last fall, some WAC coaches and administrators were trying to renege on Hawaii’s hosting of the tournament, claiming that it would be too expensive. They may be surprised at how well Hawaii fans support the competition. And there is no question that it’s a huge advantage to be playing at home and sleeping in your own bed. The tournament winner gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals.


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