By David Rodish
PHOENIX – For the 14th straight year, the Arizona Diamondbacks remain the most affordable fan experience in Major League Baseball.
That’s the determination of Team Marketing Report’s 2022 MLB Fan Cost Index, which combines ticket price with other game-day costs, including beer per ounce, parking and hot dogs. The Diamondbacks had the lowest number in the majors with a Fan Cost Index of $152.30.
For Arizona sports fan and mom of two, Crys Melton, the affordability makes a big difference in what she and her family are able to do during the summer months.
“Especially as season-ticket holders, when my brother brings his herd of children, (the cost is) not a big deal,” Melton said. “After the price of admission, it’s more expensive to go to the movies.”
The Meltons have been season-ticket holders for 10 years. Melton purchases the 28-game pass which allows flexibility for game choice and buying souvenirs and food at the ballpark.
Despite a 5.6% increase from last year’s mark, Arizona is still the most affordable team in MLB for fans. This comes as “the majority of Major League Baseball clubs have begun ramping up ticket prices,” Chris Hartweg, CEO and Publisher of Team Marketing Report, stated in the report. “In reversal of 2021, concessions hold (the) line, while tickets fuel (the) increase.”
Melton’s work as a non-medical care provider for pregnant women forces her to be on call most of the time. It makes it hard to go to other ballparks. But from the few she has visited and from what her friends who live elsewhere have said, the affordability of Chase Field makes family trips manageable.
Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall said it’s important that despite new projects like the Caesars Sportsbook at Chase Field, families like the Meltons must not be priced out.
“The affordability for us is a point of pride,” Hall said. “When you come to the ballpark, we want to make sure you’re not gouged. We allow people to bring in their own food (and) water. We have family-value pricing. We want to make sure that anything we do, it’s still affordable so people have a reason to come back.”
The average ticket price around the majors in 2022 sits at $35.93. For Arizona, the average cost is well below at $22.12. The ticket cost is a 3.5% increase, which sits just below the league average of 3.6%.
Melton often brings her nieces and nephews to Diamondbacks games, so she experiences the normal ticket price often. It is in those days that she makes sure to take advantage of outside food being allowed.
“In a couple of weeks, I’m coming (to Chase Field) with my brother and his five kids,” Melton said. “There’s a zero percent chance of buying food at the ballpark. We will get a ton of McDonald’s nuggets before we go.”
Even if she can’t avoid the cost of concessions, Team Marketing Report found that beer per ounce, soft drink per ounce, hot dog, hat and parking costs are all below league averages.
“I go to football games and I go to spring training games and I spend way more money at spring training than I do at Chase (Field),” Melton said.
The Diamondbacks have dominated the Fan Cost Index, having maintained the least expensive fan experience in MLB every year since 2009. In the 14 years, the Diamondbacks’ Fan Cost Index has increased $37.88 from $114.42 to the current $152.30. The Boston Red Sox have the most expensive fan experience, with a Fan Cost Index at $385.37. MLB’s average cost is $256.41.
Arizona has remained low in cost while rising in performance on the field. After finishing tied for last in the standings with the Baltimore Orioles with a record of 52-110 last year, the Diamondbacks sit eight games below .500 after 76 games and are in fourth place in a strong National League West division. Arizona is 13 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers.
But as a diehard, Melton would show up to the games, no matter the performance on the field or if the cost became greater.
“I don’t care how the team is,” Melton said. “If (the team) doesn’t look like it’s trying, then why do you expect me to pay $20 just to park my car?”