The Cost of Taking a Family to a Football/Baseball/Basketball Game is Obscene

Tickets, beer, hot dogs, and parking can all add up higher than ever before.

by Ben Marx
Originally Published: 
father and daughters at sports match

A four-person family outing to a baseball or football game has never been the cheapest activity, but new data shows that prices have spun even further out of control than previously reported. Between the combined costs of tickets, multiple drinks, hot dogs, parking, and memorabilia like hats and t-shirts, taking your family out to see live sports now costs twice as much as it did even recently.

According to recently-published numbers, 2016 saw the cost of taking a family of four to a single NFL game hit an average of $502.84. For comparison, that’s a 232 percent increase from $151.33 in 1991. Other sports have had similar increases, with an NBA game coming out to an average of $339.02 in 2016, a 139 percent increase from $141.91 since 1991. MLB games remain the cheapest of the three at an average of $219.53 each, but they’ve still experienced a whopping increase of 176 percent from $79.41 in 1991.

But those averages don’t factor in the cost of premium seats, which are proliferating at most stadiums, and are also based on the unrealistic assumption that each adult is only going to drink one beer. And while the standard hot dog remains a staple, ballparks and arenas are seeing a rise of gourmet concessions selling lobster rolls and Blood Marys for a mint.

The good news? Ticket costs, always the biggest culprit, are still largely dependent on convenience and timing. Weekend day games are more expensive than weekend night ones, so taking your kids to the ballpark after work, especially in the middle of the week like Wednesday, can save a lot of money. The same goes for choosing your games wisely. Oakland Raiders tickets go for an average of $71.03 each, while seeing the Chicago Bears can bump the cost up to $131.90. And, of course, buying tickets well in advance yields the cheapest prices. Just try to stick to good ol’ hot dogs.

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