Earlier this week, I got the e-mail about 2011 baseball season tickets for the new USF Baseball Stadium. Obviously this stadium is going to be a huge improvement over Red McEwen Field, which was just three sets of bleachers with no chairbacks. And there's going to be a chance to improve the revenue that baseball generates. But this seating chart pricing seems really out of whack.
If I lived in Tampa and I wanted season tickets, I have two choices - general admission seats for $50 (the same as last year and maybe a little too low), or field box seats for... $500.
And from what I can tell, these field box seats don't include any special perks. No free food. No concierge or waiter/waitress service. Nothing like the Green and Gold Room for basketball donors. No Diamond Dolls standing next to me holding a shade over my head for the whole game.
That's an awful lot of money for baseball season tickets, even good ones. So I decided to see how much the most expensive season tickets were for the eight teams that reached last year's College World Series. None of them even came close:
- Florida - box season tickets are $125.
- Florida State - all grandstand tickets are $150.
- TCU - adult reserved season tickets are $195.
- UCLA - season tickets not available; top single-game price is $7.
- South Carolina (defending CWS champions) - $255 payment to Gamecock Club Boosters includes a season ticket price.
- Oklahoma - reserved seats are $150
- Clemson - season tickets not available; maximum single-game price is $10.
- Arizona State - field level season tickets are $270.
Look at some of those deals! I can get season tickets to both UF and FSU baseball, who both play in better conferences, for a total of $275, or I can buy a field box season ticket to USF for $500. If I were just a random baseball fan, I know what I'd pick.
Obviously USF's field box seats are way out of whack with what some of the best current programs are charging for baseball season tickets. But I did find some schools where these $500 box seats are comparable... as long as you ignore some obvious facts.
- Miami - field box seats are $495. They also have 23 trips to the CWS, they have four national baseball championships, and they haven't missed the NCAA tournament since 1972. If this team played the Marlins in a three-game series, they might win.
- LSU - purple home plate and dugout seats are $350, although a sizable donation is required. They also have 15 trips to the CWS, six national baseball championships, and they've been to the NCAA tournament 19 of the last 21 years.
- Rice - gold level tickets cost $460, including donation. They also have 7 CWS trips, one national title, and 16 straight NCAA tournament appearances.
Hang on, though, there's more baseball in town. Let's not forget the Rays over in St. Petersburg. I wonder, how far would $500 take me at Tropicana Field this season?
And that's for a team that won the toughest division in the majors two of the last three seasons and went to a World Series in 2008... not a college team that hasn't been to an NCAA tournament in almost a decade. So in closing, I can't wait until the first televised USF baseball game, when all the seats in view of the camera are empty because someone priced all the fans out of them.