The past year for the Los Angeles Dodgers has been a rather tumultuous one, at least when it comes to their relationship with fans. There’s been a massive blackout on Dodger games, with an $8 billion deal between the team and Time Warner which ultimately leads to about 60% of those in L.A. County unable to watch their hometown team. They don’t have the option of using MLB.tv, since that has always blacked out all local games, but fans were still able to go to Chavez Ravine for a relatively affordable amount, but it looks like that’s set to chance after the announcement that Dodger ticket prices are going to increase across the stadium for the 2016 season.
The announcement only includes season tickets, but it’s a safe assumption that if fans have to pay more for season tickets, individual game tickets aren’t going to get any cheaper. Part of this move is reclassifying a number of sections into “preferred.” This doesn’t actually change the seat or the view at all, just the price on the ticket. Some seats are increasing by as much as 48%, but most are going up by 10%-25%.
The team has also eliminated the option for $5 per game season tickets.
Among those upset about this increase is Bill Plaschke, and he details why quite well in his Wake-Up Call.
You can’t fault the team for making money, or claim that they’re cheap. Their payroll was the highest of any team last year, and they dished out significantly the most money per win. But still, their unavailability to fans in their home town could hurt them, especially when there’s a young exciting team in Anaheim. If young fans can’t see their hometown team play, they’re not going to scour box scores to discover their idols. As a kid growing up in Chicago, I was a Cubs fan because of WGN and a Braves fan because of TBS. They were accessible, even when I couldn’t make it to games. Obviously the TV deal is still a major problem, but then using that created demand to make it harder for fans to get to games is another problem in itself. It may be the smart business decision for 2016, or 2020, or even 2025, but twenty years from now the Dodgers could find themselves in a position where they don’t have the dedicated fans that every successful franchise is so reliant on.