With America in a tough economic situation, and the Rust Belt states faring even worse, citizens of this country are spending less and less each day. Among the things that they are cutting back on are sports. There is no pressing need for tickets to hockey, soccer, or even football games when you need to worry about car and house payments. Yet, somehow, in all of this, attendance at baseball parks has soared. Even the Columbus Clippers at Huntington Park, who were the first team eliminated from the playoffs, are still selling out. It can not be because the games are more compelling (they are not) or because there are better stories – it must be for some other reason.
Normally, I get into Columbus Clippers games for free, as I am a member of the press. I pay for parking, but then get a free seat with a good view, free food, and free drinks. Except when I was writing my article about Huntington Park, I never really thought about the cost of going to a game. Last night, however, my father and I headed out for a night on the town, and I realized exactly how great Minor League Baseball really is.
My dad and I pulled up to the park, and paid to leave our car on some pavement – $3. We then got some decent seats in the reserved sections – $12. Next, we grabbed a hot dog each – $6. Finally, as my dad doesn't drink, I grabbed an icy-cold beer to quench my thirst – $6.50. All together, we spent $27.50 for the night. That's right, in a large city, a father and son can have a great time out for less than $30.
Then it hit me: this is why people come to the ballpark, even with the economy in the dumps. While tickets cost a lot more at bigger parks, the small parks around this country are easily affordable, and they offer great entertainment. Where else can you got for just $9 (assuming you bring in your own food) and watch some amazing plays and games? The parks are one of the best values for your dollar in today's America.
Not only do you get this slice of American culture for relatively little money, you also get a slice of the local culture. Every ballpark has its own history, story, and aura. Here in Columbus, we ring cow bells to celebrate our team. In Cleveland, some guy beats on bass drums. All over the country, each and every ballpark has traditions that are native and unique to them. Going to those fields lets you experience a little bit of Americana.
Now, some people might complain about the pricing of food, the location of parking, and a whole slew of other things, but they really are missing the larger picture. Baseball is America's game, and it is something that our culture is in love with. While prices might be more expensive on the inside than the out (I agree, cotton candy should never be $4.50), the overall trip to the park is well within the family budget.
I really think that Minor League Baseball is one of the great activities for the American people. It allows us to go out as families, friends, and couples, and cheaply enjoy a fun and exciting game. Furthermore, most stadiums offer special deals and discounts, helping to eliminate the costs and strains to your wallet. Finally, almost all Minor League Parks let you bring in your own food and (non-alcoholic) drinks, which means that you can attend a game for next to nothing. So, grab your kids, your coworkers, or that special someone and head to your neighborhood ballpark today!