Why NFL and NHL Tickets Cost Way More Than NBA and MLB Tickets

Sports fans love watching their favorite teams play in-person. But this is getting more difficult due to the rising costs of attending games. Some leagues still have a somewhat affordable model. But the NFL and NHL are growing increasingly expensive to experience in person. Here’s why some leagues, the NBA and MLB especially, sell much cheaper tickets than the NFL and NHL.

A day at the game

All prices go up with time, so a little growth is normal. However, some teams and leagues are pricing games in a way that means the average family can’t afford to go. The NFL is particularly egregious when it comes to this. In just 13 years, the average NFL ticket went from $62 a game to $102, reports Statista.

Over in the NHL, which doesn’t draw the same amount of interest as the NFL, fans still pay exorbitant amounts to watch hockey in person. Toronto Maple Leafs tickets average $346, while some of the smaller teams average less than $100 a seat. While hockey is king in Toronto, stateside teams like the New York Rangers and Nashville Predators charge $200-$300 per ticket. 

Lots of factors go into ticket prices, from increases in player salaries to the demand for the ticket itself. But the NFL and NHL cater to the deep-pocketed individuals who can afford it. 

Why do tickets cost so much?

Ticket prices are not the only expense an average fan has to worry about. Even parking one’s car at the arena can set you back an extra $100, if not more. Plus, every food item, drink, and souvenir is more money out of the sports fan’s pocket. Rather than combat this, owners seem content to raise prices.

In the NBA, the Golden State Warriors were opening an arena on the heels of their historic finals runs. While the NBA as a whole is cheaper than the NFL and NHL, the Warriors were an exception, as The Guardian reports, charging astronomical prices to see games. When the team moved across the bay to San Francisco, it acknowledged this desire.

In the heart of Silicon Valley, the Warriors’ passionate Oakland fan base will likely be replaced by corporate groups among others. The residents of one of the most expensive cities in the world are more likely to pay hundreds of dollars on a whim than the average person. This even caused Oakland native Damian Lillard to call out the franchise, explains Yahoo Sports. 

Let’s do the math on rising ticket prices

The NFL has a case for charging more. The NBA has 41 home games on top of the playoffs, while the MLB has over 80 before the playoffs. The NFL, on the other hand, is lucky if it has 10 home games. With thousands of people flocking in once a week, it makes sense that the biggest league in America will charge more, even if they go a bit overboard.

In the NHL, however, things are different. They have a comparable schedule to the NBA in terms of home games. But players’ salaries are not nearly as high and the league is not nearly as popular as the NBA. What it comes down to is the market. Owners want to make as much money as possible. As long as fans pay these prices, they aren’t going to lower them.

Attending a sporting event may be a great American pastime, but these days it’s something few can afford to do regularly. This might be good for owners’ pocketbooks, but it changes the environment of every game.